Lake Okeechobee Business Alliance

#ProtectlakeO

Keeping balance in the ‘liquid heart’ of Florida: Lake Okeechobee

 

Lake Okeechobee’s water level is managed for: public health and safety, flood control, water supply, local basin runoff, current and forecasted weather conditions, ecological conditions of Lake Okeechobee and its surrounding areas, navigation, salinity and groundwater control, and recreation.

Should Lake Okeechobee should be kept artificially low during Florida’s dry months to protect the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries?

Some parties believe revising the LOSOM, so that Lake Okeechobee is lowered to 10.5 feet during Florida’s dry months, is the answer to curbing harmful discharges of lake water to the coastal estuaries that take place in the wetter months, because Lake Okeechobee gets too full. We wholeheartedly disagree with this plan.

 

A 10.5-foot Lake Okeechobee would devastate South Florida!

 If the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were to lower Lake Okeechobee to 10.5 feet, it would…

  • Cut off water supply for agriculture users south of Lake Okeechobee, putting crops such as sugarcane, sweet corn, green beans, lettuce, radishes, rice, sod and many others that feeds hundreds of millions of Americans annually at risk

  • Threaten the back-up drinking water supply for more than 6 million Americans living on the lower east coast of Florida

  •  Jeopardize the fresh water supply for the Florida Everglades

  • Close Lake Okeechobee to boat navigation and put jobs tied to fishing and recreation on the lake at risk

  • Create an ecological disaster for Lake Okeechobee, the second largest freshwater lake in the United States by threatening grass and fish habitats

  • Jeopardizes beneficial releases to the Caloosahatchee River to fight saltwater intrusion

 

 

#Slowtheflow campaign

Where do Lake Okeechobee Inflows come from?

 
 
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Lake Okeechobee Inflows
 

Over the last five water years, 95%-98% of the water that came into Lake O, came from the Kissimmee River Valley, North of Lake Okeechobee.

A massive amount of water and nutrients enter Lake Okeechobee from the north. In 2017, Florida's Senate Bill 10 (SB10), the plan for an expedited reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee, provided tremendous amounts of attention, money and relief to coastal communities and estuaries.

 
 

Where does water leaving Lake Okeechobee go?

 
 
Lake Okeechobee Outflows
 

Advocates of SB10 were loud, active and very vocal about coastal waterways. Communities south of Lake Okeechobee got vocal in fear of our livelihoods when the bill called for taking 60,000 acres of farmland out of production to build the reservoir. Law makers heard our cries and amended the bill to instead use land already in public ownership for the project.

NOW it is time to solve Lake Okeechobee water problems, and focus on where heavy loads of water and nutrients are entering the system. We must restore the lake’s ecology and in turn, revive and enhance health of the businesses around Lake Okeechobee who depend on the lake and on the agricultural industry that is under false scrutiny.

#FixTheDike #SlowTheFlow #LoveLakeO

 
 
 

Now Lets Talk Solutions…

A growing population.

A growing need for clean water.

A permanently reduced land footprint to accommodate it all on.

How do we

#SlowTheFlow ?

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Professional Angler Scott Martin: “The Water Releases from Lake Okeechobee during the Hurricane and Rainy Season have caused a lot of division among many in Florida. This idea on how to solve much of the releases to the East and West Coast of Florida and the Everglades is the most common sense and economic idea I have heard yet.”

Northern Water Storage Projects Are Vital 

Too much nutrient polluted water is flowing into Lake Okeechobee. SFWMD research shows that more than 95% of the water and the nutrients originate from areas to the north of the lake. In heavy rain events, water flows into Lake Okeechobee six times faster than it can be drained via canals! 

This untreated lake water is then discharged to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries when Lake Okeechobee levels get too high. The coastal estuaries require a unique balance of saltwater and fresh water. Too much or too little freshwater from the lake causes the estuary ecosystem to suffer.

Capturing water north, before it enters the lake, is paramount. If water is collected, cleaned and stored north of the lake, it can then be released into the system during dry times. Northern storage will benefit Lake Okeechobee, the coastal estuaries, the Everglades, and water supply users. Water managers and scientists put together this fact sheet to stress the importance of water storage projects north of Lake Okeechobee.

 

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Florida’s Water Storage Options

 

Learn how various water storage types can work in tandem to reduce harmful discharges to the coastal estuaries, keep Lake Okeechobee at a safe level, and provide water to the Everglades & water supply users.

Storage Options identified in the LOWP* :

1. ASR Wells (Aquifer Storage and Recovery)

2. DWI Wells (Deep Well Injection)

3. Reservoirs

(Resources: 2015 University of Florida Water Institute Study; *LOWP- Lake Okeechobee Watershed Project, a joint effort between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and SFWMD)

 

 
 
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  1. ASR Wells (Aquifer Storage and Recovery)

The Technology: excess surface water is pumped 900 feet underground into the Upper Floridan Aquifer (see graphic below)

Cost: $1 - $6 million

Capacity: can inject 8 cubic feet of water per second (cfs) / 5 million gallons per day

Timeline: Plan, Permit, Construct to be operational in 3-4 years

Downfall: water must be treated when implanted and upon recovery which can become pricey. There is a limit on how much water can be injected into the Floridan Aquifer, high likelihood of of that limit being reached in heavy rain events  **ideal if used in tandem with DWI wells

Upside: 70% -90% of water stored can be recovered during dry periods to supplement water supply for all users & the environment. Also will provide relief for the coastal estuaries and Lake O during heavy rain events

Usage: water supply storage, protect estuaries & prevent flooding, reduce/eliminate discharges damaging the estuaries

Land footprint: less than an acre

  • ASR wells are very ‘site-specific’ and fortunately, scientists say the land north of lake Okeechobee is ideal for ASR well technology allowing for a 90% water recovery rate

  • ASR wells have proven provide a reduction in phosphorus concentrations in recovered water (source: 2015 University of Florida Water Institute Study)


2. DWI (Deep Well Injection) Technology

The technology: water is pumped 3,000 feet underground into a transmissive rock layer that easily accepts water called the "Boulder Zone"

$ Cost: $500 thousand - $5 million

Capacity: can inject 30 cubic feet of water per second (cfs), 2-5 million gallons a day.  In total, roughly a billion gallons of water a day could be injected into the boulder zone without affecting the ASR wells

Timeline: can be planned, permitted, and constructed to be operational in 2-3 years

Downfall: water injected cannot be recovered in dry times

Upside: Relief for the coastal estuaries and Lake O during heavy rain events; water can be injected at a much faster rate than water can be injected into ASR wells

Usage: protect estuaries, prevent flooding, reduce/eliminate discharges damaging the estuaries

Land footprint: less than an acre

  • 20 deep injection wells would reduce the volume of excess water in typical discharge events by 27%

  • 60  deep injection wells constructed would reduce the volume of excess water in typical discharge events by 80%

  • Quickest, easiest, deepest option

  • DWI are used all over the world and are commonly used for municipal wastewater disposal

  • There are 240 deep wells throughout Florida that have successfully operated for 15 yrs

  • Lee county sewage uses deep wells

  • Miami-Dade has 21 deep injection wells (some of which are used for treated sewage) and they expect to double this number by 2025

  • Largest number of permitted deep wells is in Martin County (30+ deep wells)

  • Rainfall, a natural resource, would be injected to help manage excess rainwater - not sewage

  • NEVER has there been a recorded incidence in Florida of DWI leaking into the aquifer  

How do DWI compare to fracking? 

  • DWI are operated at low pressures (1.5 – 20 per square inch PSIthat do not cause fracturing of rock layers

  • A bike tire is pumped up at a similar PSI as a DWI well

  • Fracking can be up to 9,000 pounds per square inch (PSI) and can fracture rock layers

 
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3. Reservoirs

Cost: Billions (the current EAA reservoir is estimated to cost a staggering $4.3 Billion)

Capacity: 240,00 - 360,000 acre-feet

Timeline: 5 - 10 years - locate/purchase land, construct berm, 

Downfall: Biggest negative economic impact, high cost to operate once constructed, are often not usable because the same rain event that flooded nearby lands has filled the reservoir i.e. Everglades will be flooded and unable to accept water

Upside: 100 % of water stored can be used during dry periods to supplement water supply for all users & the environment. Also provide relief for the coastal estuaries and Lake O during heavy rain events

Usage: water supply storage & protect / discharges damaging the estuaries

  • Reservoirs have been used in Florida and the USA for 40 years

The James Madison Institute did an in-depth study on the negative economic impact taking 60,000 acres of EAA farmland out of production to build a reservior would have - click here to read the full report. 



 

If you support cleaning water up at the source(s), before it enters Lake Okeechobee so that not only will the coastal communities have clean water for drinking, fishing, and tourism, but communities and residents of the Lake Okeechobee Region may also benefit from the tax dollars being spent on water treatment projects that benefit all our water bodies, and believe Florida should leave EAA farmland in production, click below to sign the "stop buy the land" and #slowtheflow petitions.

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