Ortona Lock Closed Until July 20
LABELLE, FL. -- On June 4, the Ortona Lock located on the Caloosahatchee River between LaBelle and Moore Haven (part of the Okeechobee Waterway) underwent a major procedure to drain the lock for repairs. Every four to five years navigation locks on Lake Okeechobee and the Okeechobee Waterway require inspection and routine maintenance.
In less than 24 hours two 12-inch hydraulic pumps emptied all but a few inches of water from the lock. The remaining water was intentionally left so fish that became trapped in the drained lock could survive until they were netted by Corps staff and transferred into a metal tub. The tub was then raised from the lock by crane and the fish were emptied back into the river. The catch of the day was a Snook weighing approx. 30 lbs and measuring nearly 3-feet in length.
Before locks can be inspected and serviced they need to be de-watered or drained. The first step in dewatering is to isolate the lock from surrounding waters. To accomplish this feat steel bulkheads and a series of partitions, called needles are placed within concrete recesses of the lock. Divers are used during this phase to make sure the recesses are clear of debris and help align the needles for proper placement. Once the bulkheads and needles are in place dewatering (pumping out of water) can begin.
Over the next several weeks work crews will replace rubber seals and lubricate various moving parts on the lock. Existing manatee protection screens will be repaired and a new Manatee Protection System will be installed on the lock gates