Originally published in WGCU Media by Valerie Vande Panne on November 9, 2020

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began releasing large discharges of water from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers ahead of tropical storm Eta. That could be necessary, especially when faced with a tropical storm or hurricane as no one wants a repeat of the hurricane of 1928 that was one of the deadliest on record. The storm devastated the agricultural communities south of the Lake, prompting the construction of the Herbert Hoover Dike.

With the water level in Lake Okeechobee already high, John Cassani with the Calusa Waterkeepers said heavy rainfall can create problems.

“That creates a public health and safety issue for communities near the lake that might be flooded out if there’s a breach in the dike,” said Cassani, adding that repairs to the dike haven’t been finished yet. “That’s an issue if the lake gets too high and that’s part of the reason that the Corps is discharging water at a high rate.”

Typically, the lake can fill faster than it can be discharged for the lake’s depth to be lowered, he explains.

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