Lake Okeechobee

After Irma, Slow-Moving Crisis Headed For Lake Okeechobee

13 hours ago
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The winds and outer bands of Hurricane Irma are long gone, but as rainwater drains south through Florida’s rivers and watersheds, the storm still presents a slow-moving crisis headed right for Lake Okeechobee.

Amy Green / WMFE

Water managers expect Lake Okeechobee will rise to near historic levels after Irma.

They will begin sending water east Friday.

Lake Okeechobee is expected to reach as many as 17 feet as storm water continues to drain from central Florida to the Kissimmee River and eventually the state’s largest lake.

That would be the highest level in more than 10 years. But Laureen Borochaner of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the lake’s dike is in good shape after Irma.

Peter Haden / WLRN News

The city of Clewiston sits on the south shore of Lake Okeechobee. It’s one of the best places in the country to snag a largemouth bass.

But in the days after Irma, people are flooding Clewiston to fish for something else: gas.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Lake Okeechobee is currently at 13.7 feet, which is a slight increase over the course of the week, despite days of water releases into the estuaries surrounding the lake.

While the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers does not at this point believe the aging Hoover Dike is at risk of breach, there are three places where they expect significant amount of water to splash over and potentially stream over the top of those sites.

The infrastructure that prevents Lake Okeechobee from spilling over is old. And that's why Congress allocated $49.6 million to help repair it this fiscal year. 

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), who's the founder and Co-Chairman of the Everglades Caucus, toured the Herbert Hoover Dike on Lake Okeechobee Monday. He got an update on the dike's rehabilitation projects from the Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville district. 

Carl Juste / Miami Herald

So much rain so early in the wet season has led to a slow-moving crisis across South Florida: what to do with all the water before things get really bad.

A state plan to protect estuaries by moving water north of Lake Okeechobee underground is sparking opposition.

Martin County Health Department

Blue-green algae blooms that devastated Florida's coasts last summer contained as many as 28 types of bacteria, some of which can harm humans.

Compromise Water Measure Heads To Gov. Scott

May 3, 2017

Florida could bond up to $800 million — two-thirds the amount previously sought by the Senate — to speed construction of a reservoir intended to help clean South Florida waterways, under a compromise measure heading to Gov. Rick Scott.

A bill that looks to "un-muddy" the mission of Florida's main environmental land acquisition program could potentially affect the plan for an Everglades reservoir.

Amy Green / WMFE

Gov. Rick Scott waded into the legislative battle over Everglades restoration Monday.

The governor gave support to a revised Senate water-storage plan and called for lawmakers to financially help the federal government speed repairs to the dike around Lake Okeechobee.

Read more about the debate to restore the Everglades: River Of Grass, Dying Of Thirst

Negron Trims Controversial Water Plan

Apr 5, 2017

Senate President Joe Negron on Tuesday toned down a wide-ranging water bill intended to protect his district's waterways, as he sought to make it more palatable to House leaders and people living south of Lake Okeechobee.

Dry weather has caused the water level in Lake Okeechobee drop below the minimum range targeted for South Florida’s drinking water supply.

Questions Linger Over Negron’s Water Priority

Apr 2, 2017

Senate President Joe Negron's priority of creating a reservoir to protect rivers and estuaries east and west of Lake Okeechobee appears to have a murky future.

Kate Stein / WLRN

Artist Jenna Efrein loves the Everglades. Since moving to South Florida, she's spent a lot of time exploring the ecosystem and learning about the challenges it faces. That passion -- and 10 years of gymnastics experience -- have shaped an installation of her work on display now at the Wynwood Building.

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