WCA's Dangerously High Water Forces District to Move Water from A-1 FEB into Lake Okeechobee to Protect Wildlife
June 24, 2017
After South Florida experienced an unprecedented level of rainfall over the last few weeks, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) closed Water Conservation Area 3 (WCA-3) to recreational activities due to the more than 15 inches of rain received across the region. FWC further urged state and federal agencies to aid in lowering the damaging water levels to reduce their negative impacts on Florida's wildlife and Water Conservation Areas (WCAs).
As a result, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) took swift action in the form of an emergency order. In reliance of this order, South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) water managers deployed emergency operating procedures to help the severely flooded WCAs and relieve the Stormwater Treatment Areas (STAs), some of which received volumes of water over triple their capacity as a result of this 100-year storm event. The emergency operational practices include moving A-1 Flow Equalization Basin water north into Lake Okeechobee. During normal operations, this water moves south into the WCAs and then into the Everglades. Moving it north instead will reduce the high water impacts on both the STAs and the WCAs.
This operation began Saturday, June 24, and will continue until the risk of damage to the STAs, WCA-3 and Florida's wildlife subsides.
The emergency actions currently being undertaken by the water managers remain the best possible alternative to protect wildlife in the WCAs. While much more could be done, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) prohibits water managers from sending the water south by opening the S-12 A and B structures along the Tamiami Trail due to obsessive commitment to single species management practices (Cape Sable seaside sparrow). State and federal water managers continue to urge USFWS to accept additional water into Everglades National Park under these 100-year rain event emergency conditions.
State water managers will continue to take all the available actions to protect human life and safety and Florida's wildlife.
High Water Emergency Operations Update
UPDATED June 27, 2017
Under an emergency order from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), the South Florida Water Management District is currently reducing water levels in Water Conservation Area 3A (WCA-3A) by preventing additional water from entering and sending water out of WCA-3A through these measures:
- Maximizing discharges from WCA-1 to tide through the Hillsboro Canal in Palm Beach County.
- Maximizing discharges from WCA-2A to tide through the C-14 Canal in Broward County.
- Maximizing discharges from WCA-2A to tide through the North New River Canal in Broward County.
- Maximizing discharges from WCA-3A to tide through the Miami Canal in Dade County.
- Maximizing flow through S-333, subject to L-29 elevation of 7.5ft, while also releasing water through S-334 to the South Dade Conveyance System.
- Broward County – Increasing discharges to tide by pumping the S-13 pump station in addition to gravity flows to reduce the volume of water that would otherwise be pumped into WCA-3A.
- Moving A-1 FEB treated water to Lake Okeechobee via the North New River Canal.
- Moving Stormwater Treatment Area 2 partially treated water to Lake Okeechobee via the North New River Canal.
- Moving excess water from WCA-1 to tide through the C-51 Canal, and to Lake Okeechobee via the L-8 Canal.
- Maximizing flows to South Dade Conveyance System within the operational flexibility allowed by increment 1.1.