Independent Scientific Panel Backs Increased Caloosahatchee River and Estuary Minimum Flows and Water Levels
Dec. 15, 2017
West Palm Beach, FL – After seven years of study and an independent review from a scientific panel with more than 150 years of combined experience, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board voted on Thursday to start a process that will ultimately increase the minimum flows and water levels to the Caloosahatchee River and Estuary to protect it from harm.
"I grew up playing in the Caloosahatchee as a child, and its beauty and health are something I care about protecting every day of my life," said SFWMD Governing Board Member Jaime Weisinger. "Following sound science is how we will restore and protect this river and estuary. These standards coupled with the completion of several significant restoration projects we currently have underway on the West Coast will ensure the future of the Caloosahatchee for all Floridians."
The Caloosahatchee River and Estuary has long been affected by changes in the timing, distribution and delivery of fresh water to the river. During drier periods when minimum flows are critical, a lack of sufficient flow to properly balance salinity levels can adversely affect the health of oysters, seagrasses and other aquatic plants and wildlife that call the Caloosahatchee home.
The minimum flow of 300 cubic feet per second was established in 2001. After years of study by SFWMD scientists, the District has recommended increasing the minimum flow to 400 cubic feet per second as measured at the S-79 structure. Scientific data shows that keeping flows at that level will help ensure adequate freshwater supply to the estuary and protect it from damaging extended periods of elevated salinity.