SFWMD’s New Website: “Moving Water South,” SLR/IRL

Home Page for new SFWMD website "Moving Water South," 2014.
Home Page for new SFWMD website “Moving Water South,” 2014.

In case you have not seen it, managers at the South Florida Water Management District have created a wonderful new website entitled “Moving Water South.”


This website shows the incredible “work-around” the District performs to send water through the Everglades Agricultural Area, (EAA), to get water to flow south. The EAA, of course, is one of the nation’s richest agricultural areas and completely blocks the flow of water from Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades. Since the 1920s, the EAA has been the primary reason for the Army Corp of Engineers building canals C-43 and C-44 for  the “overflow” waters of Lake Okeechobee.  These excess waters are then dumped into our precious estuaries of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon and Caloosahatchee. This destroys them. 

If you go to the link above and view the website you will see a combination of ten different structures, (S); stormwater treatment areas, (STA);  and water conservation areas (WC) that either basically send, clean, or hold water in its  journey south.

They are as follows: Lake Okeechobee; S-354; S-351; S-352; C10A; WC1; WC2; WC3; STA3/4; and STA 2.

I really think this is a great site and as a former 8th and 9th grade teacher, I appreciate that it is something that can be visually shared with young people so that they can easily understand why our estuaries are periodically destroyed;  the value, but difficulty of the EAA’s location; and why our Everglades are being starved of the amount of water they originally received.

My greatest hope with tools like this is that future generations will be able to figure out a way for us all “to have our cake and eat it too–” allowing enough water to go south so as not to destroy our estuaries, and allow the state’s long time best friend, historic “Ag” to do what it does, make money and feed people….

I definitiely commend the SFWMD for the transparency of the web-site;  let’s take a look at what they are reporting today.

From Nov. 1, 2013, through Oct. 31, 2014, South Florida Water Management District operations moved approximately 339 billion gallons of water from Lake Okeechobee – that’s the same as 782,367 football fields filled with 1 foot of water or about 2.2 feet of water depth of Lake Okeechobee. 

Holy Toledo! 339 billion gallons of water. Hmmm? How much is that?

After the 2013 Lost Summer and looking at the ACOE’s website for so long,  I understand acre feet better….so how do we convert gallons to acre feet? (An acre foot is one foot of water standing on one acre of land…)

Thankfully, I have friends who can help me answer this question.

My friend, Dr Goforth, (garygoforth.net), a former long time employee of the SFWMD and designer of the Storm Water Treatment Areas told me:

“To convert from gallons to acre feet, divide by 325,872.”


I can’t get those numbers on my calculator, but it must be more than  273,188 acre feet as I have this number from a prior post on the subject for water south May -October 2014 as reported by Dr Goforth….  🙂   (http://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2014/11/10/i-can-see-the-light-moving-water-south-slrirl/)

All joking aside, thank you SFWMD for the website. By the way, it is important to recognize that the ACOE and SFWMD have “moved more water south” in 2014 than at least since 1995. Bravo! 

In conclusion, in conferring with Dr Goforth, he thought it was a great site too, but mentioned it would be nice if the site explained how much water “made it to Everglades,” as this is a tremendous part of the overall goal.

Below is Dr Goforth’s chart showing water to Everglades among other complicated transactions. Like I said, thank God there are people who can read this stuff and do the numbers; all I really know is that sometimes there is an ocean of water coming into our estuaries and it needs to go somewhere else!

Dr Gary Goforth's chart for moving water south to the Everglades
Dr Gary Goforth’s chart for moving water south to the Everglades, May-Oct. 2014.

*Thank you to Ted Guy for calling the Move Water South site to my attention!


12-20-14: After completing the above post, I am adding the chart below of Dr Goforth’s showing how much water by year comparatively moved south into the STAs from 1995 to 2014. I think it is a helpful visual and now I can reference this photo in Comments of this blog post.

Dr Goforth's chart showing amount of Lake O. water sent south to the STAs from 1995-2014.
Dr Goforth’s chart showing amount of Lake O. water sent south to the STAs from 1995-2014.

I am also adding this Option Lands Map as it too is referred to in the comments on this blog post as a way to send even more water south and create a type of flow way in the future….

Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass
Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass

22 thoughts on “SFWMD’s New Website: “Moving Water South,” SLR/IRL

  1. JTL: 2.2 feet? Every 9 inches change in Lake O equals 400,000 acre feet, so this is just shy of 1.2 million AF or 3/4ths of what flooded us in 2013.
    This is what wen Negron and One Florida have been trying to explain. There is a water movement south. And we can stop the discharges if…. And as a former teacher, you will know, procrastination is the enemy…. Therefore, we need to not wait until the levee to figure out what to do with those rushes of massive influx.
    Reduce the inflow; clean it as it flows and send clean water south (at a controlled pace).
    As always, great investigating. As we teach ourselves, we become better stewards of our environment and make good decisions to protect and preserve it.

    1. Thank you Don! So we would need enough storage for 1.2 million acre feet to have covered 2013 and in past years the amount of water has been much more than that….Right? You are very good at the numbers. I bet you were a good student!

  2. We need room for 1.6 million to satisfy 2013 lake discharges and room for the local discharges of another 100,000 AF to cover it all.
    If we could get ACOE to use the funds that were allocated over 7 years ago, and dredge the T channels of the lake, the water could start out rainy season at 12 feet (this season it started at 12’9″ and in 2013 it was at 13’6″) we have 4 feet to play with before the 16’1″ mark where there exists a 1% chance of breech. This would be the same as 2 million Acre Feet that could be held in the lake.
    Point being, we could stop discharges altogether with a project with funds already allocated and in no way harm any other project.
    Congressman MURPHY and set it up so, I will be going to DC next year to press this point and try to bring this idea home.
    The issue that stops this project is where and what to do with the muck and we are hard at work on that problem.
    With every solution a new problem arises, but with math and science, there is always a way and we will find it. the EVerglades Foundation has stepped up with their offer of $10 million for a solution for cleaning the Kissimmee Basin to 40 PPB phosphorus, so great minds are picking areas and attacking the problems.
    Keep hope alive… There is light appearing.

    1. I have read about what you speaking of in your STOZE presentation, and I have talked about it with my long time RC comrade Kevin Henderson. He says the dredging idea of that T area of Lake O is a very good one and has been talked about over the years plus for navigation aren’t “they” required to do it in a way?

      Thank you Don for explaining the concept better than I have ever understood.

      Where to put the Muck? We should find some place f least impact and build a giant mound like the native peoples did and make it a tourist attraction. This was actually an idea years ago by Ernie Lyons’ father for dredge fill in Stuart.

  3. From the SWFMD Moving Water South website:
    “Stormwater Treatment Area 3/4
    At 16,300 acres, STA 3/4 is the largest constructed wetland in the world. Moving MORE water south through the STAs risks damaging their ability to perform as water quality improvement treatment wetlands and could violate state and federal regulations.”
    (capitalization mine)

    Very educational website (click on the photos at the bottom to learn more). I have always struggled with the obvious dilemma: we need the Agricultural Area for the food, yet we also need more/larger stormwater treatment areas. And the present volume of water being moved south is staggering.

    As a west coaster, I tend to study the areas to the west of the big lake because of the effects of floodwater release on the Caloosahatchee. This would be Glades and Hendry counties. This map on the SWFMD website shows that the Stormwater Treatment Areas and Water Conservation Areas are located only in Palm Beach and Broward Counties. I am wondering, Jacqui, do you know if any more water release areas are in the planning stages that will be located to the west and south?

    1. Hi Sweet Pea. Thanks so much for your insightful comment. I am no expert, but I believe that plans are moving forward for the C-43 Reservoir (http://www.evergladesplan.org/pm/projects/proj_04_c43_basin_1.aspx) which will kind of “move water south” and be “west” and it will hold extra water that is now damaging the Caloosahatchee.

      This is years away but at least it is squeaking along. The west coast is more complicated for me not just because I don’t live there, but because of how the Calosahatchee was dredged and its headwaters messed up so that the Caloosahatchee needs some water basically all the time to keep its salinity in order. The advocates on the west fight for this water on the ACOE calls. Ag sometimes wants it too. Seems like the C likes about 600 to 1000 cfs going through…..

      Mr Ray Judah is the person I speak to about the west coast or Rae Ann Wetzel of the Sanibel Capitiva Conservation Foundation. Her email is rawessel@sccf.org

      Here is Riverwatch (Tel: 239-245-9954) I believe if you contact them they can give you contact info for Ray Judah, (http://crca.caloosahatchee.org/?do=about)

      I really appreciate your communication especially from the west coast—our friends and allies!

  4. Remember, that water is but a “drop in the bucket” of what we need to move in wet years like 2013, 2008, etc.

    W.E. “Ted” Guy, Jr.

    643 SW Fuge Rd

    Stuart, Fl 34997

    (772) 287-4106 (home)

    (772) 485-1866 (cell/car)


  5. Jacqui – Thanks much for all your report…. Just Great. Would love to see something about filter feeders (Oysters) – Thanks Again – GG

    1. Hi George! I will do something on oysters soon. I have a file on them from FOS and MC. They all died almost in 2013 due to discharges. So sad. My mother tells stories of the old timers telling stories of eating oysters the size of large mango in the old days when the SLR/IRL was cleaner than today.

  6. Dr. Goforth’s comment is very relevant. SFWMD always sends water south in the dry season as part of their work to provide Big Sugar with perfect water supply. This looks like greenwashing to me. Without quantifying how much of the water is going from the WCA’s into the Everglades this just tells me that the EAA is irrigating their fields.
    Every time there is a need for more storage in the WCA’s they are full of water pumped off of the EAA. Nothing has changed that.
    I would like the Corps to publish similar data for the WCA’s as that of Lake Okeechobee. They do show the regulation level and the current level but they don’t provide a comparison to last year or the average of past levels. I think they always send this kind of water south in the dry season. This doesn’t go into the equation for reducing discharges to the estuaries because it is the norm. Needed capacity is above these amounts.
    Kissimmee restoration and moves to reduce phosphorus coming into the lake are wonderful but they don’t deal with legacy phosphorus levels so they don’t improve water quality for water to truly be sent south to the Everglades in any volume greater than that of the recent decades.
    I still firmly believe we need to buy the land we have an option for, trade to consolidate holdings directly south of the lake and build polishing capacity that will handle the kinds of water levels we get every 4 or 5 years.
    I’m not celebrating sending irrigation water to the EAA.

    1. Hi Kevin. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. As our former Indian Riverkeeper you are a voice that we need. I too believe the State must exercise the option/s and buy the lands. I added this Option Lands Map https://jacquithurlowlippisch.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/photo8.jpg so anyone not familiar with what you are talking about can take a look. Option 1 in brown expires of course next October so again there is a lot of work to do!

  7. “I’m not celebrating sending irrigation water to the EAA.” That makes two of us, Kevin! Bynthe way, they were sending Lake water east, from S380 into the C44 canal, as recently as a week or so ago, for 6 or 7 days on end. About 476 CFS if I recall. The canal level zoomed up to 14.6 and then within 2 days it went down to about 14. I assume the western Martin Ag guys needed water?

  8. Sorry about the multiple comments, Jacqui, but just checked and they are sending 2160 CFS of Lake water into the C44 at this very moment. That’s 1.39 billion gallons per day at that rate.

  9. Actually, the lake height at 15.3 today is not concerning to water managers. What I assume is that the growers western Martin are getting water for irrigation?

    1. Based on what I have watched over the past few years 14 feet was high when going into the new year with a wet forcast and it is going to be a lot higher than that. Who knows….yes that water going into C-44 is probably for irrigation.

    2. Mike I looked at my notes and 15.28 feet is higher than the average. Here is an article I found from 5 days ago.

      ARTICE: FISHOLOGY BLOG Monday, December 15, 2014 at 4:20 by Del Milligan
      Lake Okeechobee’s water level remains fairly high, almost a foot above the level a year ago at this time.

      The South Florida Water Management District said the lake stood at 15.37 feet above sea level on Monday, compared to 14.44 feet one year ago.

      The historical average for this date is 14.73 feet.

Leave a Reply