Preparing Year-Round

If you haven't lived in Florida for long, you may not know that our climate has two seasons: wet and dry. Flood and drought are frequent visitors, the result of too much or too little rain. In any year, drought can happen during the wet season, and flooding can occur when we least expect a downpour. Weather in South Florida has a way of ignoring the calendar and expectations of "normal."

A Shared Responsibility

The South Florida Water Management District operates and maintains the regional water management system known as the Central and Southern Florida Project, which was authorized by Congress more than 60 years ago to protect residents and businesses from floods and droughts. This primary system of canals and natural waterways connects to community drainage districts and hundreds of smaller neighborhood systems to effectively manage floodwaters during heavy rain.

As a result of this interconnected drainage system, flood control in South Florida is a shared responsibility between the District, county and city governments, local drainage districts, homeowners associations and residents.


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Managing Lake Okeechobee

At the heart of the greater Everglades ecosystem, Lake Okeechobee historically overflowed its banks, sending a sheet flow of water south through the Everglades. Today, the 730-square-mile lake is part of a massive flood control system known as the Central & Southern Florida Project, which stretches from just south of Orlando to Florida Bay and serves 8.1 million people.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages Lake Okeechobee water levels with the goal of balancing flood control, public safety, navigation, water supply and ecological health. The Corps bases operational decisions – whether to retain or release water in the massive lake – on its regulation schedule and the best available science and data provided by its staff and a variety of partners, including the South Florida Water Management District.

Lake Okeechobee Releases to Coastal Estuaries

In a fixed regional water management system with limited storage, the Corps must sometimes release water from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers to protect public safety when lake levels get too high. more »  

Interactive Map, Moving Water South of Lake Okeechobee - View Larger 
Related information:


Frequently Asked Questions – Lake Okeechobee Releases
Who is responsible for water releases from Lake Okeechobee? »

Why is water sometimes discharged from Lake Okeechobee through the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee waterways into the estuaries? »

What is the SFWMD's role in water releases from Lake Okeechobee? »

Can more water from Lake Okeechobee be sent south to the Everglades? »

Can Lake Okeechobee releases to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries be stopped? »

Can a flow-way be constructed south of Lake Okeechobee? »

Why does environmental restoration take so long? »


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