Peace (not) full

The Peace River has been flowing well below average for 2 years now. Take a look at the above hydrograph to see just how low.

The blue line shows the Peace River’s weekly flow rate (in cfs) measured by the US Geological Survey at Arcadia from 2005 to present. The white line is the 10-year average, and the gray-coded band in the background shows the 10-year range (maximum and minimum).

Back in 2005, the Peace surged above 3,000 cfs for much of the summer, and over the past 10 years, the Peace has averaged a 3,000 cfs fall flow rate.

Compare that to 2007. Peace River flows at Arcadia have barely blipped above 500 cfs, and has been flowing at under 100 cfs since November.

The Peace River isn’t a part of the South Florida Water Management District — but rather the neighboring Southwest Florida Water Management District, and commonly dubbed Swiftmud, and is an intregal part of the Peace River/ Manasota Water Supply Authority.

In the near term, water managers are closely watching river flows to make sure they don’t exceed minimum flows for the river and tributaries, and have also resorted to increases withdrawals from the aquifer and even drilled an emergency well to augment supplies. In the long-term, water storage projects are underway to lighten dependency on the river.

This saga has been unfolding in the newspapers. From what I’ve been reading, the minimum flow calculation combines flows from Peace River (Arcadia), Joshua Creek (Nocatee), and Horse Creek (near Arcadia), and that combined flow is 90 cfs, recently reduced from a previous 130 cfs standard.

Check out these newspaper articles if you haven’t seen them already.

And take a look at Dan Dewitt’s recent article in the St Petersberg Times on Florida’s growing dependence on rivers to meet growing water supply demands.

Here’s a look back in time to annual flow volumes in the Peace River (at Arcadia) in comparison to the Caloosahatchee River (at S79). Both have been down for two consecutive years. Its the lowest annual flow volume down the Peace since 2000, and even longer for the Caloosahatchee.

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