Posted on March 6, 2023
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District is closely monitoring, in coordination with the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), and Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), blue-green algae conditions at Port Mayaca Lock and Dam (S-308) after receiving aerial imagery showing a thin ribbon of algal mass moving towards the gate yesterday.
During the USACE morning assessment, blue-green algae was not visibly present to our operators from the surface. After receiving the imagery, we immediately shut down S-308 to further assess and monitor conditions.
SFWMD crews assessed the bloom this morning and did not detect any visible blue green algae. However, SFWMD crews will sample the area this afternoon. The samples will be analyzed by the FDEP in Tallahassee. Our operators conduct visual inspections of the lake and structures for potential algae blooms multiple times daily.
While not an authorized project purpose, water quality is a critical consideration in our operational decision making. We work closely with the state agencies responsible for water quality, consider it in our NEPA analyses for our studies and projects, and when possible, avoid making releases during times when harmful algal blooms are present on the lake. We continue to provide information to the public about the presence of algal blooms near our structures, facilities, and waterways we manage.
Our overall dry-season strategy has not changed, but S-308 remains closed as we assess conditions. We will continue to utilize our make-up releases as a water management tool within the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule 2008 (LORS08) to release the water we have banked up this winter. LORS08 Part D guidance currently recommends up to 650 cfs at S-79. As we move further into the dry season, we will continue releases using the available volume of banked water at beneficial levels. We are committed to transparency throughout the implementation of make-up releases.
We appreciate the ariel photo provided to us by Dr. Scott Khuns and Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch.