I rode over the Kissimmee River a few months ago during the start of the dry season.
While stopping to take a few photos of the river, I duly noted — by the signage on either side of the bridge — that I had passed overtop the imaginary line in the sand (or in this case, the river) that separates Okeechobee from Highlands Country.
That sign rang a bell in the back of my mind earlier this month while reading an article in the Treasure Coast Palm on the Battle of Lake Okeechobee.
Today the battles aren’t around the Lake, they are on and about the Lake …
In trying to figure out what to do with it’s waters — for the Everglades downstream, the estuaries on either coast, the levee that surrounds it, water supply to the east coast and farmers, nutrient enrichment, and the wetlands that lie within.
How has the Lake held up in the 6 months since Fay has passed?
Water stage wise, it’s lost two of the four foot rise that Fay bestowed to it overnight. Volumentrically, that translates into a loss of 1 million acre feet from it’s 4 million acre foot mid-September peak.
How much is 4 million acre feet you ask?
That’s approximately the same volume of oil pumped from the earth each year.
Or if you’ve ever seen Lake Mead recently (it’s 100 feet below peak stage of the late 1990s), it’s about a quarter of the volume of water behind the Colorado’s Hoover Dam.
Of course Lake Mead is much deeper — Hoover Dam stands 726 feet tall!
Compare that to the entire state of Florida. It’s highest point is 345 ft above sea level, the lowest high point of any other state.
Lake Okeechobee must rank as the shallowest of the the world’s larger lakes: it’s only 20 ft deep at its deepest point …