Water continues to drain south into Lake O from Orlando/Kissimmee

Posted 11/23/22

The heavy rainfall left by Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Nicole continues to drain south.

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Water continues to drain south into Lake O from Orlando/Kissimmee

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The heavy rainfall left by Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Nicole continues to drain south.

According to the South Florida Water Management District Environment Conditions Report on Nov. 23, in the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes, for most lakes, stage has returned to the regulation schedule; however, releases continue to be made for local basin runoff. Weekly average discharges on Nov. 20, at S-65 and S-65A water control sturcutres (where KCOL water enters the Kissimmee River) were 2,300 cubic feet per second (cfs) and 2,700 cfs, respectively, both of which were higher than the previous week. Mean weekly water depth on the Kissimmee River floodplain decreased from the previous week to 1.18 feet.

The weekly average concentration of dissolved oxygen in the Kissimmee River increased from 2.8 mg/L the previous week to 2.9 mg/L on Nov. 20, above both the potentially lethal level and the physiologically stressful range for largemouth bass and other sensitive species.

Lake Okeechobee stage was 16.25 feet above sea level on Nov. 20, 2022, with water levels 0.07 feet higher than previous week and 0.77 feet higher than a month ago. Lake stage is 0.75 inches above the upper limit of the ecological envelope. This makes the third year in a row lake stages have exceeded 16 feet at the beginning of the dry season. Average daily inflows (excluding rainfall) decreased by 425 cfs, and outflows (excluding evapotranspiration) increased by 8 cfs from the previous week. The most recent NOAA satellite image showed no harmful algal bloom potential on the lake.

Total inflow to the St. Lucie Estuary averaged 1,040 cfs over the past week with no flow coming from Lake Okeechobee. No lake water has been released to the St. Lucie River since April 2021.

Total inflow to the Caloosahatchee Estuary averaged 1,060 cfs over the past week with no flow coming from Lake Okeechobee. This year, lake water has only been released to the Caloosahatchee River when needed to keep the freshwater flow within the optiminal salinity range for the estuary.

Due to the heavy rainfall south of the lake, there has been little capacity to move lake water south.

For the week ending Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022, no Lake Okeechobee water was delivered to the Flow Equalization Basins (FEBs) or stormwater treatment areas (STAs). The total amount of lake releases sent to the FEBs/STAs since May 1, 2022 is approximately 12,600 acrefeet. The total amount of inflows to the STAs is approximately 939,000 ac-feet. STA cells are at or near target stage.

Last week rates of stage change in all regions of the WCAs were in the “fair” or “good” category as depths remained stable. Depths are very near average across WCA-3A and average conditions in that basin are not ecologically advantageous (too dry in the north, too wet in the south). Taylor slough stages fell at most stations last week but overall remain above the pre-Florida Bay initiative average. Average salinity notably decreased last week in Florida Bay but remained above average.

Lake Okeechobee, rainfall, water levels

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