Kudos SFWMD; “Water Year” or “Calendar Year”–Sending Even More Water South in 2015! SLR/IRL

Satalite image of south Florida, 1980, NASA. Public photo.) (http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/environment/wetland_freeze.html)
Satellite image of south Florida. From top to bottom, one can see the Kissimmee chain of lakes, Kissimmee River/canal; Lake Okeechobee; the Everglades Agricultural Area (in red) ; the Water Conservation areas below that; and finally Everglades National Park and Florida Bay.  (Public photo NASA, 1980.(http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/environment/wetland_freeze.html)

The number one thing I learned as a teacher was that I had to do my best, at all times, and with all students, to be “fair.” This required calling  students out when they did something inappropriate, as well as praising  them when they did something great.

Today, besides explaining the difference between a WATER YEAR and a CALENDAR YEAR, I must recognize the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD)(http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/sfwmdmain/home%20pagefor doing something “great.”

Two days ago, our friend, Dr Gary Goforth, (http://garygoforth.net),”architect of the STAs,” reported that so far, the SFWMD has sent more water south from Lake Okeechobee, through the Storm Water Treatment Areas, (STAs) than even in 2014, which itself was a “record year.”

This will help save the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon….

You may recall prior to 2014, comparatively “little” water had been “sent south,” for a long, long time…meaning more of it went into our estuaries. 

Let’s learn:

Below, are summary notes from Dr Goforth that I have edited for simplicity of communication:

 

Attached is a snapshot of the current flows into and out of Lake Okeechobee for WATER YEARS 2015 (May 1 – January 2015).

Dr Goforth, 1: current flows into and out of Lake Okeechobee for Water Year 2015 (May 1 – January 2015).
Current flows into and out of Lake Okeechobee for Water Year 2015 (May 1 – January 2015). (Chart, Dr Gary Goforth.)

Highlights:

Water years chart showing Lake O water sent to STAs 1995-2105. (Chart Dr Gary Goforth, 2015.)
Water years chart showing Lake O water sent to STAs 1995-2105. (Chart Dr Gary Goforth, 2015.)

The District continues to send large volumes of Lake water to the STAs and WCAs: over 416,000 acre feet (136 billion gallons)! which coincidently is the volume of the Lake releases made to the St. Lucie River/Estuary in 2013. During the 3 months of the current dry season (November-January) they have sent over 207,000 AF to the STAs. They are on pace to greatly exceed my target of 250,000 acre feet during the dry season! And they said it couldn’t be done. On a side note – STA performance continues to improve in association with the additional flows.

 “Water Year” 2015 now is in the record books for the most Lake water ever sent to the STAs 

Also, “Water Year 2015” now is in the record books for the most Lake water ever sent to the Everglades since 1994.

The obvious bad news is that Lake discharges continue to the St. Lucie River/Estuary – at a rate that has practically no effect on reducing the stage of lake Okeechobee (less than 0.1 of an inch per day – less than evaporation).

*Jacqui-please feel free to share this information, with the caveat: “Estimates are preliminary and subject to revision.” 

 

Thank you Dr Goforth for sharing the above good news and kudos to the SFWMD!

___________________

Now as a side bar—I don’t want to confuse anybody, but I do want to share, in case you have noticed too, that sometimes these charts are reported in WATER YEARS and sometimes in ANNUAL YEARS.

For instance, the chart below that I shared in a blog reporting 2014 flows last year shows the report in CALENDAR YEARS. Dr Goforth’s chart above is in WATER YEARS and that is  why 2014 in his above chart does not look as high as one would expect it to–as 2014 was also a “record year,” (above 250,000 acre feet sent south.)

Water Sent South report Dr Goforth, 2014 in ANNUAL YEARS.
Water Sent South report Dr Goforth, 2014 in ANNUAL YEARS. This shows 2014’s water south above 250,000 acre feet reported in CALENDAR YEARS whereas the chart above shows in WATER YEARS.

So what’s the difference? A WATER YEAR is May through April over a two-year period; whereas a CALENDAR YEAR is just that, a calendar year….

I guess the scientists people usually use WATER YEARS…

But sometimes it gets reported in CALENDAR YEARS. Sometimes they don’t specify….Ag!

So anyway, it can be is confusing interpreting these charts. I wanted to make sure that everybody knew both: that in 2014 the SFWMD district sent over 270,000 acre feet south; and in 2015 they have already sent 416,000 acres south! Two great record years after the public outcry following the “lost summer” of 2013.

Although all this water going south is fantastic news, it must be noted as Dr Goforth did, that this is not enough water to “save” the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. This is why the river movement is advocating for the state legislature to purchase option lands south of Lake Okeechobee in order to create an eventual  reservoir to store, clean, and convey –closer to the 150,000 acre feet that is necessary to go south so as not to destroy the estuaries…..

But today we focusing on praising good work….

Thank you to all of the hard-working members of the SFWMD who try to balance politics with science, a very difficult classroom! We recognize your good work; we commend you, we thank you. Please keep raising that bar!

____________________________________________________

SFWMD website: Sending Water South:(http://sfwmd.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapTour/index.html?appid=a9072c94b5c144d8a8af14996ce23bca&webmap=d8e767997b0d494494243ffbc7f6f861)

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