A Ten Year Calendar View, Discharges to the Caloosahatchee

A Ten Year Calendar View, Discharges to the Caloosahatchee

Today’s post is in response to a question by blog reader, Mike Downing. Based on Monday’s December 2, 2020 post:  A Ten Year Calendar View, Discharges to the St Lucie, Mike wrote:

“Thank you Jacqui! While this is bad for the East Coast, the West Coast has been inundated with nonstop discharges from Lake O. Can your brother update his Caloosahatchee chart to include 2020?” Mike Downing

Thanks to my brother, Todd, for replying to Mike’s question right away. (Chart above)

Mind you, these numbers measured from S-79 (comparable to the St Lucie’s S-80) include basin runoff and Lake Okeechobee discharges. As of 12-1-20, the brown line of 2020 is creeping higher, just under 2018, to 1,409,269 acre feet! That’s one foot of water on 1,409,269 acres of land!  

If we want to see a break-out of basin and Lake O discharges to the Caloosahatchee, we can view SFWMD, Division Director of Water Resources, Lawrence Glenn’s draft slide for the upcoming, December 10, South Florida Water Management District Meeting. (See below.)  

In a color coordinated way, Lawrence’s chart splits out the basin and Lake Okeechobee discharges over the course of 2020.  Look at all the dark blue representing Lake O in late October, November, and December. Also, look at all the basin runoff (green and gray)For Lawrence’s entire presentation -which includes the St Lucie- click here.

As a non scientist, non-technical type, what I notice looking at Todd and Lawrence’s charts is that although there has been notable discharge in 2020, the water was released by the ACOE later in the year. This is significant. 

Back to Todd’s chart:

If you want to learn even more, use my brother’s eyeonlakeo acre feet calculator to get a visual for 1,409,269 acre feet of water. 1,409,262 acre feet would put 33.66 inches of water on the land area of Lee County and 48.66 inches of water on land area of Martin County!! Mind boggling! See here or chart below.

What helps keep things in perspective for me is a map created in 2019 by the SFWMD based on the famous historic 1913 Harshberger map that makes very clear -colored in light baby blue- the water that once covered the central and southern portion of Florida. The majority of this water is now sent through the Calooshahatee and St Lucie Estuaries… 

Historic Phytogeography of South Florida with Present Day SFWMD Features Map, 2019

And in this crazy year of 2020, let’s try to follow the old-fashioned journalism model and end on some good news! Yesterday the ACOE announced it will be lessening discharges to the estuaries: (https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Media/News-Releases/Article/2433860/corps-to-start-reducing-flows-out-of-lake-okeechobee/) 🙂 Thank you and we await the closing of the gates entirely!

6 thoughts on “A Ten Year Calendar View, Discharges to the Caloosahatchee

  1. Thank you SO MUCH for this “free” education/history! You’re a blessing to our community!

  2. MANY thanks to you and Todd for updating the Caloosahatchee chart to include 2020!

    The problem here on the West Coast is that the discharges were primarily in August-December with apparently little discharge last winter dry season. At this point in time I don’t see how the lake level can be reduced sufficiently this dry season to avoid discharging cyanobacteria laden during the 2021 summer wet season. I sincerely hope that I am wrong!

  3. Jacqui, thanks for this amazing post! Very informative! It’s a shame it’s so difficult to get everyone on the same page of what’s best for Florida (with regard to Lake O water), it’s position in ecology, and the residents of the state and then chart a path forward that gets us to where we should be. Of course we need to compensate folks reasonably, but have an annual “new input / review”, discussion & plan tweak, and execution of the plan for the year. I realize it is a difficult task with all the various concerns/investments. But Jacqui, thank you for persevering, you are an angel for this endeavor and we all appreciate you! 🙂

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