End of July report
SFL Weekly Watersheds Update: July 24-30

EVERGLADES NP and BIG CYPRESS NP. Average surface water levels in Everglades NP and Big Cypress NP are tracking closely to the 5-yr average for early August. Keep in mind that the last five to ten years have been wetter (ie, more rain) than decades past. For example, from 2001-2005 the preserve has averaged 60 inches of rain per year, and 48 inches of wet season rain (May through October). From 1985-1994 the preserve averaged only average around 50 inches of rain per year, 38 inches of which fell during the wet season. That’s a full ten inches more per year that we’ve been receiving in the late 90s and new millenium in comparision to the late 80s and early 90s. Its sort of the equivalent of cramming an extra month of summer rain into the calendar. Suffice it to say that it’s a moving average, and wetter recently than it was 15-20 years ago; but based on the past 5 years I’d say we’re right around the average mark for early August. This means that surface water in the preserve has risen high enough to flood the prairies and hydric pines and high enough in the park to flood the slough and ridge landscapes. Surface water levels in the park and preserve are both about 0.5 ft below their 5-yr average high-water mark, which typically occurs around September.

WATER CONSERVATION AREAS. Surface waters rose substantially from the start to end of July in all three conservation areas — regulatory surface water in each area rose about 1 ft. Among the areas, water is deepest in the southern part of 3A, showing water depths around 2 ft deep. This places surface water in southern 3A at the top of the bayhead and bottom of the tree island landscape types. North of I75 water depths are around 1 ft deep, which places surface water in that area at the ridge landscape type. Surface waters are similarly about 1 ft deep in WCAs 1 and 2. Over the past week an average of around 3000 cfs of water has entered northeast 3A through the S11 structures. In comparision, the S12s are still flowing at less than 500 cfs, and the S10s only averaged around 200 cfs for the week. You can see by looking at the WCA1&2 interactive map that water is still pooling up around 3 ft behind the S10s, whereas stage has largely equilibrated on the headwater and tailwater sides of the S11s since their open wide.

LAKE O. Lake Okeechobee stage is currently around 12.3 ft above sea level. That puts the current lake stage a little over a foot below the bottom of the littoral zone (13.5 ft asl), about 1.5 ft below the Lake’s 5-yr average for early August, and about 4 ft below last year’s early August lake stage. Flow has been entering the lake from the Kissimmee River (through the S65E structure) at a weekly average of around 500 cfs. There are still no flows leaving the lake.

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