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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.)


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)

Dear Governor Scott,”Let’s Keep Working on Clean Water,” St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Let's Keep Working was Gov. Scott's reelection campaign slogan. "Clean Water"  was part of his promise and for many it is an important piece of creating jobs and a number one priority.
“Let’s Keep Working” was Gov. Scott’s 2014 reelection campaign slogan. “Clean Water” was part of his promise and for many it is an important piece of creating jobs, building the future and economy of Florida– a number one priority.

I met Governor Rick Scott when he came to Stuart during 2014, in response to the “Lost Summer of 2013,” and then again during his campaign reelection.

One of the most interesting things for me, was that he carried around a blue Sharpie pen. They say little things tell you a lot about a person’s personality….

When I gave him my booklet to sign, the booklet, Let’s Keep Florida Beautiful, dealing with Spring’s protection, his reelection campaign booklet he brought and shared with the area Chambers of Business, I handed him a ball-point pen to autograph my booklet. When he went to sign, it did not work!

He quickly reached inside his suit pocket and pulled out a blue Sharpie pen and proceeded to sign the booklet. (Photo below.)

The inside cover of Rick Scott's campaign booklet Let's Keep Florida Beautiful, 2014. Photo JTL)
The inside cover of Rick Scott’s campaign booklet “Let’s Keep Florida Beautiful,” 2014. (Photo JTL.)

As the Treasure Coast sits awaiting the ACOE opening of S-308 and S-80 structures this morning at 7:00AM, to once again pour polluted water from Lake Okeechobee into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, I would like to thank the Governor for his press release in response the releases yesterday, (below) and ask that CLEAN WATER becomes the height of his campaign promise.

I ask him, in this second round of water trouble, that he take out his Sharpie pen and fix the problem.

My personal request too, as is the Rivers Coalition’s, is that he consider the purchase of 46,800 acres of option lands in the Everglades Agricultural Area to create an area for dynamic (moving storage). A place to store, clean, and convey lots of water. Much more water than his present plans allows for.

I appreciate all that has been done by the State, but unfortunately these things are not enough to truly “Save Our River.” (http://riverscoalition.org)

Please leave a legacy of a lifetime, sir.

Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass, Option 1 is 46,800 acres and shown in brown. (SFWMD map, 2010)
Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass, Option 1 is 46,800 acres and shown in brown. (SFWMD map, 2010.)


The Governor’s press release statement regarding releases from Lake Okeechobee starting 1-16-15:

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Governor Scott released the following statement today on the news by the US Army Corps of Engineers of upcoming Lake Okeechobee releases to the east and the west, in anticipation of upcoming rainfall levels.

Governor Scott said, “The Corps’ announcement of releases today from Lake Okeechobee proves that we cannot relent in our mission to restore Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades. We must stay the course on our current water restoration commitments and complete the projects we have already started. We also need the federal government to step up their commitment to Everglades restoration by immediately requiring the Army Corps of Engineers to repair the Lake Okeechobee dike.
“The discharges from Lake Okeechobee in 2013, and the resulting harm to our estuaries, serve as a major signal that we must accelerate work on the restoration projects needed to safeguard South Florida’s waters. Addressing the environmental challenges of South Florida requires the simultaneous investment in projects to store excess water, clean polluted water and send the clean water south – away from our estuaries and into the Everglades.”
Over the next four years, Governor Scott is committed to:
• Fully fund the state’s share of the restoration of the Kissimmee River (which Governor Scott has already funded at $5 million); and
• Fully fund the construction and completion of the C-43 (Governor Scott previously funded at $18 million) and C-44 (Governor Scott previously funded at $60 million).
Focusing on completing these initiatives, while not a silver bullet, is essential to quickly increasing water storage space around Lake Okeechobee and restoring the Everglades. Together, these projects will create more than 300,000 acre-feet of new storage to help fight future releases from Lake Okeechobee.
The Governor is committed to moving forward with sending water south. This year, the South Florida Water Management District sent more than 69 billion gallons of water south, sparing the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries.


Prior blog post on Gov. Rick Scott’s visit and the Sharpie pen: (http://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2014/04/13/a-surprise-visit-by-governor-rick-scott-to-the-st-lucie-riverindian-river-lagoon/)