With Hurricane Irma set to hit Florida in the coming days, the US Army Corp of Engineers is already taking preemptive measures of releasing water from Lake Okeechobee to prevent possible flooding as a result of the imminent storm.
The concern with Lake Okeechobee is that it’s eroding 143-mile Herbert Hoover dike may not be able to sustain a storm of this magnitude. Repairs to the dike have already begun, but federal funding for the project have dragged on for some time.
If the dike were to fail, some 40,000 residents and businesses around the lake could very well see themselves enduring the type of flooding Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey delivered to their respective regions of the country.
Catastrophic flooding of this extent would cause significant damage to Florida’s agriculture business.
So how much damage has the dike around Lake Okeechobee sustained?
Because of the erosion the dike has endured over the years, the Army Corp releases water from the lake when levels reach 15 feet or more.
The problem with the release of water from the lake is that that nutrient-heavy water is then dispersed into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers, causing adverse affects to sea life within, and along those waterways.
Anyway you look at it, years of federal government’s failure to finish repairs to Lake Okeechobee have now put millions of south Floridians both directly and indirectly at risk, were a catastrophic event to happen to that protective dike.