By: Katrina Elsken, Okeechobee News
OKEECHOBEE — The good news: Freshwater is flowing to Everglades National Park from the Water Conservation Areas south of Lake Okeechobee. According to South Florida Water Management District Chief District Engineer John Mitnik, since the rains started two weeks ago, water has been flowing steadily south at maximum capacity from the water conservation areas (WCAs) north of the Tamiami Trail through the water control structures.
Maximum capacity, that is for the structures that are not restricted due to the Endangered Species Act. According to SFWMD, the s334 and s12a and s12b water control structures will remain closed until mid-July to protect the breeding grounds of the Cape Sable Sea Sparrow.
The bad news: No water is flowing south from Lake Okeechobee because the stormwater treatment areas (STAs) and WCAs south of the lake are already full from heavy rainfall in that basin.
The WCAs are so full that on May 31, the SFWMD closed public access to Sportsman’s Crossing on the levee at Water Conservation Area 2A due to high water levels. WCA-2A itself is still open for public recreation.
“As the result of recent rainfall over the past two weeks, the WCAs are all above regulation schedule,” said Mr. Mitnik. He added that water managers are maximizing flow to Everglades National Park and Florida Bay, but the existing water control structures cannot move water any faster…