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Rising Waters In Lake Okeechobee Trigger Concerns Of Dike Safety

Peter Haden
Florida Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Col. Jason Kirk address concerns about safety of the Herbert Hoover Dike in Clewison on Oct. 9, 2017. The water in Lake Okeechobee reached its highest level in more than a decade Monday: 17.16 ft.

The water level in Lake Okeechobee has reached a level not seen in more than a decade — 17.16 feet — prompting concerns about the integrity of the Herbert Hoover Dike.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott accompanied U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Colonel Jason Kirk on a levee inspection around the lake in Clewiston on Monday.

The  Corps of Engineers will be conducting daily inspections of the southern half of the Herbert Hoover dike as long as the water level remains above 17 feet.

The Corps predicts the dike will remain sound, according to Kirk. 
“I can report no signs of distress,” Kirk said of the inspection done on Sunday. “Historical records would tell us it’s not likely to have distress up through 17.5 feet.”

The Corps has plans in place to control any distresses that could occur in the dike, Kirk said. The Corps’ current timetable for dike restoration completes in 2025. But that depends on consistent federal funding over the next seven years.

Gov. Scott says he’d like to see that completion accelerated to 2023. Scott says the feds are past due on funding for the dike, which is part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.

“The federal government is behind on what they owe us — about $900 million behind,” Scott said. “The federal government has to financially be a partner.”

The Corps expects the lake to crest at 17.5 feet sometime next week — barring any more major storms.