Lake Okeechobee Water Levels Remain Low Despite Last Month's Rains
September rainfall provided only marginal gains for water levels in
Lake Okeechobee, a primary backup water supply to five million south
Florida residents and the source of water for irrigation across more
than 500,000 acres of farmland in the Everglades Agricultural Area.
Rainfall for the entire month was slightly above average across the
region, South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) officials said
on Oct. 3.
As a result of the rainfall, coastal groundwater and surface water
levels across nearly all of the area have improved over the past 30
days. However, water levels in most inland water bodies and monitoring
wells remain at or near historic lows, as district-wide rainfall
remains below average for 2007, and rainfall patterns continue to favor
southeastern residential areas.
Lake Okeechobee, the largest water body in South Florida's water
management system and a leading indicator of regional water supply
conditions, reached an all-time record low of 8.82 feet above sea level
on July 3. The Lake level registered 9.96 feet above sea level this
morning, up only 0.45 feet since Sept. 1. This is 0.82 feet below its
previous historic low for this date of 10.78 feet above sea level,
recorded on Oct. 3, 1956.
Lake Okeechobee water levels have been setting new record daily lows
for 122 consecutive days, and according to water managers, the growing
disparity between current lake level readings and previous historic
lows continues to suggest that South Florida may experience
back-to-back water shortage years for the first time since the early
September 2007 followed the driest August since 1987 and fourth
driest on record since 1932, yielding district-wide rainfall of 7.38
inches, or about five percent above the historical average for the
month. At only 36.18 inches, or 83 percent of the historical average
through Monday, October 1, year-to-date average rainfall remains below
normal for the 16-county region.
"South Florida remains in a severe regional water shortage, with the
heart of our system -- Lake Okeechobee -- still nearly five feet below
normal elevations for this time of year," said SFWMD Executive Director
Carol Ann Wehle. "Absent dramatic rain events in basins north of Lake
Okeechobee over the next thirty days, we will almost certainly face a
more severe regional water shortage in the spring of 2008."
For more information, contact SFWMD at www.sfwmd.gov.