DEP’s Daily Update on Lake Okeechobee
To keep Floridians informed of the state’s efforts to protect the environment, wildlife and economies of the communities surrounding Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection will issue a Lake Okeechobee status update each weekday. These updates will help residents stay informed of the latest rainfall and lake level conditions, as well as the latest actions by the State of Florida and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Summary of the State of Florida’s Actions:
* This week:
By raising the L-29 canal level, per an order from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and at the request of Gov. Rick Scott, the South Florida Water Management District has been able to move approximately 410 million gallons of clean water (water that meets water-quality standards) into the northern portions of Everglades National Park, as of 5 p.m. on Feb. 16.
On Feb. 15, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers agreed to Gov. Scott’s request to raise water levels in the L-29 canal in order to move water south through Shark River Slough to ease the effects of flooding in the Everglades.
The South Florida Water Management District began operation of the S-333 structure at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 15 after the state received an execution order from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The discharge rate is averaging 1,200 cubic feet per second, or 540,000 gallons per minute.
* Last week:
On Feb. 11, Gov. Rick Scott requested that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers take immediate action to relieve flooding of the Everglades Water Conservation Areas and the releases of water from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries.
The Governor requested that the Corps raise the level of the L-29 canal to 8.5 feet so that substantial volumes of water be moved from Water Conservation Area 3 to Everglades National Park through Shark River Slough.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) issued orders on Feb. 11, that would allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to move forward with this request. Click here to read the orders.
* Lake Conditions:
Current Lake Level
Historical Lake Level Average
7,954 cubic feet per second
(by structures operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)
10,489 cubic feet per second
(2,535) cubic feet per second
Lake level variation from a week ago
* Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Wildlife Update:
The Everglades ecosystem and water conservation areas provide important habitat for a diversity of imperiled wildlife species, including the Everglades mink, Big Cypress fox squirrel, little blue heron, tri-colored heron, snowy egret, white ibis, wood stork and limpkin, as well as native and abundant species like American alligators, white-tailed deer and marsh rabbits.
FWC’s monitoring efforts include periodic wildlife and habitat surveys. FWC staff continue to watch water gauges to monitor high water levels and the impacts and stresses they may be having on areas like the Everglades tree islands, which are critical to the survival of Florida wildlife species.
Members of the public should report any distressed fish or wildlife to the following hotlines:
Wildlife Alert Hotline: 1-888-404-3922 or Tip@MyFWC.com
Fish Kill Hotline: 1-800-636-0511
Everglades Wildlife Management Area:
Last week, FWC conducted wildlife surveys in WCA 3AS in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Signs of light use by area wildlife were noted. Three deer (one fawn) were seen on camps. Other signs of predation included a vulture carcass.
Current water level at WCA 3A North in Broward County = 12.02 feet
High water closure criteria = 11.60 feet
Recession rate for the last week = (0.02) feet
Average ascension rate for the last 3 weeks = 0.26 feet/week
Rotenberger Wildlife Management Area:
Current water level = 13.22 feet
High water closure criteria = 13.50 feet
Recession rate for the last week = (0.24) feet
Average recession rate for the last 3 weeks = (0.03) feet/week
Holey Land Wildlife Management Area:
Current water level = 12.43 feet
High water closure criteria = 12.50 feet
Recession rate for the last week = (0.09) feet
Average ascension rate for the last 3 weeks = 0.12 feet/week
* Salinity Conditions:
Caloosahatchee Salinity Conditions: Salinity (based on optimal conditions for adult oysters) increased and are in the good range at Sanibel, within the fair range at Shell Point and in the poor range at Cape Coral.
St. Lucie Salinity Conditions: Salinity at the U.S. 1 bridge remains the same and continues to be in the poor range.
* Rainfall Information:
In January 2016, South Florida experienced the wettest January on record since recordkeeping began in 1932. Over the past three days, the regional average is approximately 1 inch, with the heaviest rainfall south of Lake Okeechobee.
* South Florida Water Management District’s Rainfall Forecast:
Rainfall for the current week is forecast to be average, and the following week is forecast to be above average.