This time last year the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Jacksonville District was managing a challenging scenario fueled by heavy rains during the dry season and early part of the wet season, forcing them to release billions of gallons of water from Lake Okeechobee to protect the Herbert Hoover Dike.
Col. Jason Kirk, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District Commander, said in its latest announcement that the rehabilitation of the dike continues as quickly as possible.
“Over the past year, we completed a study that identified the remaining features necessary to finish the job. We conducted this study while we continued replacing water control structures in the dike. These structures were prone to erosion and their replacement reduces the risk of dike failure,” said Kirk.
“We have now taken action on 24 of the 32 water control structures that we need to address around the dike. We plan to award contracts this year to replace three more structures and will award a contract to resume construction of a seepage barrier west of Belle Glade. This initial contract will construct the first six miles of the 35 miles of barrier we plan to install.
“Additionally, the Florida Legislature recently passed a measure authorizing the State to contribute $50 million towards dike rehabilitation. We are looking into the next steps needed to be able to accept these funds.
“North of Lake Okeechobee, we continue to restore the Kissimmee River. The work we have completed to date has slowed the flow of water into the lake. Last summer, we began the planning process for the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project. When we complete this study, we anticipate a report that will detail options for northern storage, giving us more flexibility in the timing of flows into the lake itself.”
East of the lake, work continues on the C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area.
The Corps continues to construct the reservoir, while their partners at the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) build the stormwater treatment area and the reservoir’s pump station. The SFWMD is also working on the C-43 Reservoir west of the lake.