Lake Okeechobee discharges begin Friday to the St. Lucie Estuary

ST. LUCIE, FL (WFLX) - Water will be discharged from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie River Friday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced. "We are concerned about the current lake level and forecasts calling for above-average precipitation during the remainder of the dry season," said Lt. Col. Tom Greco, Jacksonville District Deputy Commander for South Florida in a release. "The lake is currently at the same level as in January 2013, when an early start to the wet season required us to make large-volume discharges later in the summer. Our intent is to make small releases now to reduce the likelihood of larger releases later."

The Corps said the target flow to the St. Lucie River will be 300 cubic feet per second as measured at the St. Lucie Lock & Dam near Stuart.

According to the Corps, water levels at Lake Okeechobee have reached 15 feet. They're already discharging south and west of the lake, but, it says, the water level isn't dropping fast enough.

The Corps say it prefers the lake level to be at about 12.5 feet at the beginning of June. "We will take every opportunity to minimize the impacts. However, at the same time, we must manage the lake now with public safety paramount as we anticipate wetter conditions," Greco said in the statement.

Copyright 2015 WFLX. All Rights Reserved.