Flow to coastal estuaries is local basin runoff

OKEECHOBEE — Freshwater flowing east through the St. Lucie canal this week is from local runoff. On Tuesday, water was flowing through the St. Lucie lock at 1,196 cubic feet per second (cfs).

This freshwater flow is from the local basin. On Wednesday, the flow had lessened to 405 cfs.

No water has been released from Lake Okeechobee, which was at 13.2 feet on Tuesday and 13.22 on Wednesday.

Likewise to the west, no water from the lake has been released to the Caloosahatchee River at Moore Haven. The freshwater flow of 3,577 cfs on Tuesday was from local basin runoff.

The flow on Wednesday was 3,337 cfs. The releases were gravity flow.

Total inflows into the lake on Tuesday were 3,588 cfs or about 1.9 billion gallons a day. One inch on Lake Okeechobee equals 12 billion gallons of water.

There was no outflow from the lake. On Wednesday, inflows were 3,570 cfs.

The runoff from heavy rainfall earlier this week pushed the lake level back over 13 ft. One week ago, the lake was at 12.91 ft.

South of the lake, recent rains have been beneficial to the Everglades.

Recent rains have raised water levels in the portion of the Everglades and Francis S. Taylor Wildlife Management Area known as 3A North (north of Interstate 75 and west of U.S. 27), prompting the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to reopen the area. In April, the area was closed due to low water levels. The dry conditions increased the threat of vehicle-ignited wildfires in the area.

Water Conservation Area 3A North within the Everglades WMA complex is once again accessible by vehicle, airboat, all-terrain vehicle and other public access, pursuant to area rules.

The runoff from the rains also resulted in the closing of the Taylor Creek Lock to boat traffic.

On May 14, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) opened the gates of the S-193 navigation lock at Taylor Creek to assist with flood control north of Lake Okeechobee. As a result of this operation, the lock will be closed to boat traffic until further notice.

An algal bloom was reported at the Pahokee Marina on May 9. Florida Department of Environmental Regulation sampled the bloom and found no toxins.

Algal blooms were also reported on the Caloosahatchee River at the Franklin Locks on April 23, and at the Alva boat ramps on April 18. In both cases FDEP took samples and found no toxins.

Editor Katrina Elsken can be reached at kelsken@newszap.com

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