Belle Glade Sun

Northern storage could cut lake releases by 60 percent

SFWMD — On March 8, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) engineers and scientists published the latest detailed modeling of proposed water storage alternatives as part of the ongoing Lake Okeechobee Watershed Planning Project (LOWP).  Among those alternatives are a 250,000 acre-foot above-ground northern reservoir, alongside 110 Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) wells.

When combined with already authorized components, these recoverable water storage options reduce the total discharge volume to the estuaries by more than 60 percent, according to the SFWMD report. “Publishing the results of alternatives is a key step in our public planning process that accounts for the views of every interested party,” said SFWMD Hydrology and Hydraulics Bureau Chief Akintunde Owosina, P.E. “These latest results reaffirm our optimism about the future of these projects, as a team of engineers and scientists work to determine the most effective plan for restoring our estuaries and the Everglades.” In addition to reducing total damaging discharges to the estuaries, these alternatives demonstrate additional positive results related to reducing the frequency of years in which damaging discharges occur. The models show that a 250,000 acre-foot northern reservoir and 110 ASR wells will decrease the number of years with damaging discharges from Lake Okeechobee by more than half, giving the estuaries additional time to recover. These model results highlight the effort of the LOWP Project Delivery Team (PDT), comprised of SFWMD, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other state and federal agencies. The PDT’s goal is to deliver cost-effective projects that significantly reduce damaging estuary discharges, aid in achieving Lake Okeechobee water quality standards and enhance water supply and wetland habitats.