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Sending Lake Okeechobee water south

A brief look at the top three solutions, according to environmentalists, that would send the most Lake Okeechobee water south and stop or reduce the freshwater discharges east and west.

TCPalm newsroom

on 19 February 2015

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Transcript of Sending Lake Okeechobee water south

Caloosahatchee River
St. Lucie River
316 billions on average per year is discharged through the Caloosahatchee
About 14 percent flows to the Everglades after being filtered through South Florida Water Management storm treatment areas

St. Lucie Lock, S-80
730 sq. miles
About 144 billion gallons on average per year is discharged into the St. Lucie
About 720 billions gallons per year flows into Lake Okeechobee.*
Lake Inflow
*Average annual discharge volume figure based on 1996-2005 data.
Kissimmee River
Current flow
Kissimmee River
Graphic provided by Evergladesplan.org.
St. Lucie River
Caloosahatchee River
Lake Okeechobee
Belle Glade
a 5,000 mile watershed flows into the 730 sq. mile Lake Okeechobee
Everglades National Park
While 86 percent of Lake O's water flows east and west, 14 percent flows south.
Chart provided by the South Florida Water Management District
1. Restore the "River of Grass"
3. Plan 6
More Lake O water would flow through agricultural lands and into storm water treatment areas managed by the South Florida Water Management District before entering the Everglades.
Graphic provided by Evergladesplan.org.
Graphic provided by Evergladesplan.org.
storage of about 450,000 acre feet and water quality treatment through approximately 60,000 acres of Stormwater
Treatment Areas
The Lake
Okeechobee ASR Project will not fulfill these purposes with the design capacity of 200 ASR wells across the top of Lake
Okeechobee at 5 million gallons per day each or 3,069 acre feet total per day.
The Plan 6 Project may require modification of structures such as S-354 and S-351 or building new structures such as spillways to handle a maximum flow capacity of water moving out of Lake Okeechobee south through the area between Miami Canal and North New River Canal.
What will it take?
What will it take?
55,000 acres in the Everglades Agricultural Area and constructing a 159-billion-gallon reservoir
$2 billion. Because the plan is conceptual, it's unclear whether state or federal dollars will pay for the project.
At least 10 years to complete
A closer look ...
What will it take?
Water that doesn't travel to the Everglades flows out to the Atlantic Ocean.
Purchasing more than 153,000 acres of U.S. Sugar land south of the lake
Central Everglades Planning Project
Completion date scheduled for 2024, but the project needs to be included in the federal Water Resources Development Act by Dec. 31. First draft has been completed.
CEPP would move 65.2 billion gallons per year south, according to the Everglades Foundation.
$2 billion to build infrastructure
CEPP, part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, was approved in 2011. It is seen by state and federal officials as the first step in reducing the discharges east and west and will send more water south into the central Everglades, Everglades National Park and Florida Bay.
CEPP, along with the completion of CERP's St. Lucie canal reservoir project, are expected to reduce high flow events into the St. Lucie by half.
During dry seasons, CEPP would eliminate discharges east and west.
a little more than $1 billion
October 12, 2013 is the deadline for the state to buy the land at the current price tag. But, South Florida Water Management District has six years before the option to purchase the acreage expires.
Issues with the existing flow include:
a channelized Kissimmee River interrupts the natural winding flow sending water to Lake Okeechobee faster
nutrient runoff from the Kissimmee River emptying into Lake Okeechobee
weak spots in the dike surrounding the lake limiting the amount of water that can be stored and increasing discharges east and west
harmful freshwater discharges to the St. Lucie Estuary and Indian River Lagoon
Restoring the flow would eliminate discharges east and west and move the 720 billion gallons of water that flow into Lake O annually south.
It is seen by Martin County environmentalists as the ultimate solution to stopping the discharges to the St. Lucie and the Caloosahatchee.
Supporters include many Martin County river advocates and environmental organizations like the Rivers Coalition
Money not available? Powers?
a 5,000 mile watershed flows into the 730 sq. mile Lake Okeechobee
About 720 billions gallons per year flows into Lake Okeechobee.
316 billions on average per year is discharged through the Caloosahatchee
About 144 billion gallons on average per year is discharged into the St. Lucie
Proposed short term solutions:

“We'll never get there (an ultimate solution) unless all stakeholders embrace a common goal — eliminating, not reducing, the discharges.”
- Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers Editorial Board
Completing the C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area to help contain and clean local runoff that would otherwise end up in the St. Lucie River to help address the nutrient runoff in the watershed. (in progress)
Interim storage on private lands. Property owners are encouraged to retain water on their land rather than drain it, accept and detain regional runoff, or do both. Holding water on these lands is one tool to reduce the amount of water flowing into Lake Okeechobee during the wet season and discharged to coastal estuaries for flood protection.
Interim Storage on Public Lands. South Florida Water Management District has acquired lands in the C-43, C-23, C-24, and Allapattah, which were acquired for CERP. In the interim, the sites are being used for emergency storage.
The plan is projected to move up to 6.5 billion gallons of water per year south from Lake O to the Everglades.
Big Sugar officials say the "River of Grass" won't work because the Everglades Agricultural Area now has bowl formations in the land that would prevent the natural sheet flow of water south to Florida Bay.
By Christin Erazo

Sending Lake Okeechobee water south:
an inside look into three solutions
The plan is seen as a scaled down "River of Grass" as it would stop Lake O discharges to the east and west. Proponents say Plan 6 should be the next stage after CEPP is in place. The plan would replace the Lake O aquifer Storage & Recovery project of CERP so more Lake O water can be stored and move south to the Everglades. The project would maintain water quantity, quality, timing and distribution for South Florida and Everglades restoration.
"Bubba" Wade Jr., a U.S. Sugar senior vice president, was opposed to Plan 6, but has since reconsidered and is willing to revisit the idea.
South Florida Water Management District officials have indicated there is no money for the project and all district dollars for fiscal year 2014 are slated for approved projects.
It won't solve the whole problem. An average of 143.4 billion gallons of discharges from Lake O flow into the St. Lucie Estuary every year, said Mark Perry, executive director of the Florida Oceanographic Society. And, almost 326 billion gallons on average are sent west to the Caloosahatchee every year.
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