POINT OF VIEW: Hurricane Irma ended idea that we can ‘send water south’

Article Posted on October 24, 2017

By: Mitch Hutcraft, Palm Beach Post

As Hurricane Irma brought significant, widespread flooding and damage to the Florida Peninsula, it also brought nearly 3 feet of water to Lake Okeechobee. As is typical during high periods of rainfall, all of this excess water – combined with the double-digit rainfall totals in June – overwhelmed our man-made flood-control system and necessitated massive releases to the coastal estuaries from Lake Okeechobee.

It’s frustrating to see the releases because it means the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers are being inundated with even more freshwater than our local run-off has poured in, further reducing salinity and creating more damage in our estuaries. But it also means the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has run out of options for “sending water south.” According to federal regulations, there is currently no opportunity to send any additional water south. In fact, the Stormwater Treatment Areas and Water Conservation Areas are more than a million acre-feet above flood stage, and we continue to have high water levels in Everglades National Park…

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