This is in my backyard. I imagine places all over the US need to take a look at whats going on with their dams, dikes, etc. Water managers: Lake Okeechobee flood wouldn't be New Orleans-scale By Charlie Reed staff writer September 2, 2005 Federal and state water managers tried to allay fears Thursday that Lake Okeechobbee could overflow like Louisiana's Lake Pontchartrain if a Katrina-like storm hits Florida's largest body of water. As the death toll rises from massive flooding caused by two broken levees in New Orleans, officials from the Army Corps of Engineers and South Florida Water Management District said the likelihood of widespread disaster from a Lake Okeechobee flood is unlikely. Advertisement localnewsadtag();Canals that dump excess lake water into the St. Lucie River to the east and the Caloosahatchee River to the west, along with an extensive system of reservoirs and water conservation areas south of the lake, would disperse the water and prevent dangerous flooding, they said. Protecting South Florida hinges on the 140-mile-long Herbert Hoover dike that needs repair and only was designed to sustain a Category 3 hurricane like the New Orleans flood protection system, which the corps also operates. The earthen dike was erected after thousands drowned in Belle Glade and other areas south of the lake because of hurricane-related flooding in 1928. Officials said the chance of a modern-day breach is reduced by the lake's inland position, 30 miles from the East Coast and 70 miles from the West Coast. New Orleans where the Mississippi River meets the Gulf of Mexico was pounded by a relentless storm surge from the ocean. The first phase of dam restoration is set to begin by the end of the year, said project engineer Jacob Davis. The 4.6-mile segment stretching from Port Mayaca south will cost between $10 million and $25 million, he said. Finding real estate and funds to complete the remainder of repairs continues to be a challenge for the corps, said Luis Ruiz, chief of geotechnology at the agency's regional headquarters in Jacksonville. In the meantime, if the Herbert Hoover is compromised, flooding could reach as far north as St. Lucie and Martin counties, said water managers, who would not release a map of potential flood zones for "security reasons." Despite the National Hurricane Center's recent prediction that an active hurricane period could be seen over the next 10 to 20 years, there are no plans to strengthen the dike. "As new information becomes available we may decide to increase the height of the dam," Ruiz said. "Right now, there's no concern."