July 10-16: Rain begin to fill up wetlands in south and southwest Florida

RAINFALL. Over the past 30 days, the southern and southwestern part of the peninsula (Big Cypress NP, Naples, Ft Myers, ENP, Miami) has received over +10 inches of rain. In comparison, the areas around and north of Lake Okeechobee have received only around 5 inches during the same 30-day period. This has caused wetlands in the southern part of the District to start filling up.

WATER CONSERVATION AREAS. All the rain in the southern part of the system has caused wetlands in the Conservation Areas to finally start filling up, but its still early in the wet season and flows from the connector gates (S10s, S11s, and S12s) are mostly still closed; so regulatory stages in all the areas are still well below their average annual high water marks (commonly called “September levels”). Regulatory stage in WCA1, WCA2, and WCA3 are currently around 0.8 ft, 1.5 ft, and 2.0 ft below their respective “September levels”. Currently, around 3 ft of water is pooling up on the upstream side of the S10s and S11s. Around a foot of water is pooling up on the upstream side of the S12s. These headwater-tailwater differentials will drop down once these gates are openned to capacity.

EVERGLADES NP and BIG CYPRESS NP. Water levels have also jumped up in the Big Cypress NP and Everglades NP from the last 30 days of +10 inches of rain, and are now tracking right along the 5-year average for mid July in both areas. Similar to the Conservation Areas, water levels in the Park and Preserve are still below “September levels”, but they are not as far off as the upstream Conservation Areas. P33 in the Park is currently only about 0.6 ft below “September levels”, and water levels in the Preserve are currently just 0.4 ft below “September levels”.

LAKE O. Lake O stage appears to have bottommed out, but it still hasn’t rebounded much from its mid June low point as a result of relatively low rainfall levels on the lake and the Kissimmee watershed. Lake stage is currently at 12.25 ft above sea level. That’s about 1.5 ft lower than the 5-year average for Mid July, and 4.5 ft lower than where it was mid July of last year. Freshwater discharge through the S79 structure spiked to around 3,000 cfs over the weekend, but all of this discharge was the result of watershed flow from local rainfall, and was not from the lake (S77). Inflow from the Kissimmee (S65E) is still averaging around 500 cfs, the same discharge, which has been its steady discharge rate now for 3.5 months since the start of April. In comparison, after Wilma, discharge through the S65E peaked at +11,000 cfs. And after the heavy February rainfall S65 discharge peaked at just below 4,000 cfs.

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