Wk of July 3-9: S12 update
In the conservation areas, all the gates connecting the areas are still closed. Water stacks up on the upstream side of these levees for this reason. Water is currently pooling about 1 ft behind the S12s, about 2.5 ft behind the S11s, and over 3.5 ft behind the S10s. Over the past 8 years, the onset of water releases from the S12s (as a group) starts in the beginning of August and lasts through December. In 2005 (last year), 2002, and 2003 they were openned and flowing +1000 cfs (as a group) by early July. On the flip side, S12 flows didn’t surpass +1000 cfs in 2004 and 2001 until early September, getting a late start. During the driest year of recent memory, in 2000, S12 flows didn’t start up until the early part of October and pretty much ended a month later in late November. Going back in time to the 1980s and 1970s, the S12 flows were lower back then in comparision to the past 15 years. Note that the 5-year span from 1985 to 1990 was a time of particularly low flow through the S12s. During that 5 year period, there was only 1 full month of +1500 cfs flows (in September 1988). That’s a big contrast to what’s flown through the S12s from 1990 to present. http://www.fgcu.edu/bcw/WCA3A/Cal_12.gif
Lake Okeechobee stage seems to have flattened out. Its now slightly above 12 ft above sea level. That puts it at 4.5 ft lower than it was in early July of 2005, and still 1.5 ft below the 5-year average for early July.
Water levels in Big Cypress National Preserve have rebounded up to match the 5-year average for early July. This puts surface water throughout the preserve at the prairie landscape type, and at the base of the hydric flatwood/hammock landscape type. Of course this varies from one place to the next in the preserve. Our driest area continues to be north of I75, but that area is in general now flooding at the swamp forest/cypress landscape type. Water levels have rebounded so quickly from their unusually dry condition in mid June as a result of three continuous weeks of +2 inches weekly rain totals. This most recent week we received almost 3 inches of rain. That’s the highest single week of rain that Big Cypress NP has received since the early February deluge (ironically, that February rain was pretty much our one and only significant rainfall of a very dry dry season). The difference between the two is that the February deluge pretty much fell in one day, whereas the most recent 3 inch rain week was spread over the full week.