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Drought conditions eased, but area still needs more rain

By Staff | Aug 3, 2011

Daily rain has helped Southwest Florida recover somewhat from recent drought conditions but the region still has a ways to go before reaching normal levels once again.

South Florida Water Management District Spokesman Randy Smith said that between June 1 and Aug. 3, the region has received 16.4 inches of rain, or about 84 percent of the rain the area should have in the same time period.

While that figure itself might not prove too much of a hurdle for the local water table, an unusually harsh dry season pushed the region back further, illustrating the need for additional rain.

“Even in the wet season we’ve established a deficit and combine that with the dry season and we have over a foot of rainfall deficit,” Smith said.

City Spokeswoman Connie Barron said the city has received fewer calls from residents complaining of dry wells.

The city’s monitoring well, too, has seen increased levels in recent weeks. In June the well had a deficit of 75 feet. Today the deficit is 55 feet.

Short-term drought concerns are gone for the moment, Barron said, but the city is still looking for long-term solutions to drought conditions.

“The drought concerns right now are gone but concerns for future seasons have not been resolved,” Barron said. “We’re still looking at ways we might be able to address future concerns about dry conditions or the dry seasons.”

Smith said it is difficult to quantify what amount of rainfall would help the region completely make up those deficits and the key is the retain water underground, not on the surface.

A slow moving weather system that sits over the region for a few hours could dump enough rain to make up the difference but could also mean that flood conditions were possible.

Rainfall totals can also be hit or miss within certain regions. Eastern Lee County places like Alva and LaBelle are seeing over 100 percent of the rainfall totals they need.

Smith said the SFWMD is keeping its “fingers crossed” that more rain helps to make up those deficits.

“It is making a dent but we have a long ways to go,” Smith said of recent rains. “This was an enormous deficit we built up, maybe a tropical system or two would bring us back up to our normal levels.”