July 19, 2018

SFWMD Taking Additional Actions to Accelerate Lowering of Water Levels in Conservation Areas
View latest video update on District's actions to mitigate high water emergency and send water south after record May rainfall

Click on the image to watch the latest

SFWMD Operations Update on Managing High Water.

West Palm Beach, FL - The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) has been working around the clock to lower water levels in the conservation areas and create capacity for sending more Lake Okeechobee water south. By installing additional temporary pumps and taking other operational actions, the District is doing its part to mitigate the high water emergency caused by record May rainfall.
SFWMD Hydrology and Hydraulics Bureau Chief Akin Owosina gave an update on the District's operations through the agency's weekly video series dedicated to informing the public on current water conditions and the agency's actions amid the high water emergency. The video update can be seen by clicking HERE or visiting the District's website dedicated to the emergency situation at www.sfwmd.gov/managinghighwater.
The record rainfall in May caused Lake Okeechobee to rise more than a foot, which led the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) 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 is taking every action within its authority to lower water levels, including storing water on public and private lands, utilizing every available structure and installing temporary pumps to move additional water.
SFWMD this week installed a third 42-inch temporary pump in addition to the two that were previously installed and pumping water from Water Conservation Area 2A in Broward County into Water Conservation Area 1 in Palm Beach County to be discharged to tide through the Hillsboro Canal.
On June 20, Gov. Rick Scott directed the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to issue an emergency order, which revised permitting criteria, thereby allowing the District to install several temporary pumps. These pumps, along with permanent structures, are currently being operated by the District 24 hours a day to move more water out of the conservation areas. To date, more than 350,000 acre-feet (approximately 114 billion gallons) of water has been moved out of the conservation areas, either to tide or into Everglades National Park.

On July 9, Gov. Scott declared a state of emergency regarding the high water situation. This state of emergency superseded of all procurement policy guidelines, thereby allowing SFWMD to expedite the acquisition and installation of temporary pumps. These pumps will move water from Water Conservation Area 3B in Miami-Dade County into Northeast Shark River Slough in Everglades National Park.
SFWMD has been using the available storage in the Upper Kissimmee Chain of Lakes, including detaining water in Lake Kissimmee within the half foot flexibility above their regulation schedule allowed by the water control plan. Due to more recent drier conditions, water has been released from those lakes to the Kissimmee River to fulfill ecological restoration needs of the river. This has created capacity in the Upper Chain of Lakes to slow runoff generated from future rainfall. 

SFWMD is also utilizing existing infrastructure to move water south out of Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades, reducing the need for estuary releases.
Other actions being taken by SFWMD to mitigate the high water emergency include:
  • Utilizing completed components of Gov. Scott's Restoration Strategies Plan, such as the A-1 and L-8 Flow Equalization Basins, to store water.
  • Storing water on private and publicly owned lands through the Dispersed Water Management program.
  • Routing local basin water to tide through the C-51 Canal to minimize the amount of water that gravity flows into Lake Okeechobee through the L-8 Canal.
  • Raising water levels in the L-29 Canal in Miami-Dade County from 7.5 to 8 feet after receiving authorization from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, significantly increasing the amount of water that can be moved out of the conservation areas and to the south.
As more measures are implemented, details will be available on the Managing High Water website.
Online channels to learn more about efforts to lower water levels
Media Contact: 
Randy Smith  |   rrsmith@sfwmd.gov    |  Office: 561-682-2800  |  Cell: 561-389-3386
The South Florida Water Management District is a regional governmental agency that manages the water resources in the southern part of the state. It is the oldest and largest of the state's five water management districts. Our mission is to protect South Florida's water resources by balancing and improving flood control, water supply, water quality and natural systems.

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