Tag Archives: South Florida Water Management District

Everglades Agricultural Area Storage Reservoir Project

The Everglades Agricultural Area Storage Reservoir Project was given the thumbs up when Governor Rick Scott of Florida signed the bill into law n May of 2017. The Law provides over $1 Billion dollars of funding to find and develop water storage areas south of Lake Okeechobee.

The Caloosahatchee River and St Lucie Rivers which run east and west have been getting the greatest discharges of water from the lake in order to keep its height within safe levels. The discharges have carried harmful nutrient water flows into these rivers and caused green slime, tainted brown water and foul smelling algae into the communities that these rivers empty into.

The area south of Lake Okeechobee has been turned into a massive agricultural region by farmers and developers over the past century and cut off the natural flow of water from Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades National Park. The establishment of the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir Project which is planned to hold 240,000 acre feet of water  will help to clean the water coming from Lake O and re-establish the flow of water going to the Everglades National Park.

I took a trip to the region south of Lake Okeechobee a few years ago to do some bird watching and I saw some of the Storm Water Treatment Areas that are already in use which serve to cleanse and treat water from the lake. The photos above are of one of those water treatment areas and the W.P Franklin Locks on the Caloosahatchee River.  Visit the South Florida Water Management District website to learn more about the water storage conservation and treatment areas currently working or in the planning stages. The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan also has a good website to learn about the history and work of restoring the Everglades.

 

 

Dry Winter, Rainy Summer

The Dry Winter, Rainy Summer that Southwest Florida has had in Florida this year has had positive and negative impacts. The first four months in South Florida brought almost no rainfall. The lawns in peoples yards turned brown, watering restrictions went into effect and the canals in Cape Coral almost went dry.

Florida normally gets about 60 inches of rain per year with most of it coming from May through October. June of this year has already seen over 11 inches of rainfall in the Sunshine State. Homeowners and state water managers are usually happy with a moderate amount of rainfall but this much in a short amount of time can lead to flooding, fast rising of lake levels in Lake Okeechobee and runoff of harmful chemicals such as nitrogen into rivers and lakes leading to the growth of blue-green algae.

Lake Okeechobee itself has risen by a foot in only a month since the rain started. The 730 sq. mile lake holds 83,000 billion gallons of water with each foot in height. When the water levels approach 15 feet like they do during summer and fall periods, The Army Corp of Engineers starts releasing billions of gallons of lake water laden with nitrogen and other harmful pollutants through the gates of the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers. The waters produce blue green algae and slime which covers the estuaries, canals and beaches downstream from these rivers. The pictures shown above are The Caloosahatchee River on the left, Kissimmee River center and Lake Okeechobee on the right.

Efforts of by the South Florida Water Management District and other water management officials are building water reservoirs near the lake, drainage canals, and water retention areas to hold excess water from the lake. Organizations such as the Waterkeepers Alliance and cities on both coasts whose beaches and canals are affected are doing everything they can to stop the water releases from reaching their beaches and waterways.