The South Florida Water Management District and the U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers are moving water out of Lake Okeechobee and into large retention areas that serve to filter the water of nutrients before it is released into the Everglades. Storm Water Treatment Area # 1 West which holds 6,500 acres of water is one of many of these retention areas. It is located southeast of Lake Okeechobee and is designed to keep the lake at safe levels for flood control purposes and to help clean the water before it is released into the Everglades. Theses treatment areas can hold billions of gallons of water. Aquatic plants in the treatment areas help to remove harmful nutrients and pollutants from the water. The SFWMD and USACE also use WCA’s or Water Conservation Area’s to hold large quantities of water for purposes such as flood control, drinking water supplies, agricultural irrigation and Everglades restoration. Sending lake water to these places also lessens the amount of Okeechobee water that is released down the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie waterways which helps to keep these estuaries clean. From Nov. 1, 2014 through Feb. 2, 2015, the South Florida Water Management District moved approximately 131 billion gallons of water from Lake Okeechobee to some of these storm water retention areas and water conservation areas. You can see the water retention and conservation areas from ariel views at the South Florida Water Management District website.
Picture courtesy of South Florida Water Management District