West Palm Beach, FL - The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) has been working around the clock for months to lower water levels in the water conservation areas to create capacity for sending additional Lake Okeechobee water south, all in an effort to alleviate South Florida's high water emergency caused by record May rainfall and recent storms.
SFWMD Chief Engineer John Mitnik today gave the SFWMD Governing Board an update on current water conditions and efforts to move water. As part of SFWMD's weekly video series, the update can be seen by
or visiting the District's website dedicated to the emergency situation at
In the video, Mitnik discusses current water conditions including rainfall for the month of August, which was about 21 percent, or 1.71 inches, below average. Mitnik also told the Governing Board how Tropical Storm Gordon dropped an average of 1.26 inches of rainfall across South Florida, with some areas in South Miami-Dade County, such as Homestead, receiving as much as 5 inches of rain.
The District coordinated with local drainage districts to help them prepare their systems for the storm. SFWMD also lowered canal levels in its regional flood control system in order to take stormwater from these local drainage districts and municipalities to protect families and properties from flooding.
With several more weeks of the wet season and hurricane season and several active storms in the Atlantic Ocean, SFWMD will take similar steps to prepare the system for future storms.
Flood control in South Florida is a shared responsibility between the District, which operates the regional flood control system, and local drainage districts, municipalities and homeowners associations that operate the secondary and tertiary drainage systems that move flood waters away from homes and neighborhoods. Residents throughout South Florida can find what local agency to contact about flooding concerns based on their address by visiting the District's Flood Control website at
. Residents can also watch an educational video about how the shared flood control system works by
Record rainfall in May caused Lake Okeechobee to rise more than a foot, which led the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin releases from the lake on June 1 to the northern estuaries. At the same time, this record rainfall inundated the water conservation areas, causing them to rise considerably above their regulation schedules. To combat this, SFWMD has been taking every action within its authority to lower water levels, including storing water on public and private lands. Additionally, every available structure is being utilized and temporary pumps have been installed to move additional water.
Online channels to learn more about efforts to lower water levels