The water level in Lake Okeechobee has fallen below 10 feet above sea level for the first time since 2007. The lake fell to 9.96 feet Saturday morning. South Florida is experiencing a drought. The rainy season began May 26 but it’s off to a slow start.
National Weather Service Warning Coordination Meteorologist Robert Molleda says West Palm Beach only recorded 10.45 inches of rain from October through May 31. That’s less than a third of a normal rainfall in that time.
Water managers say there’s no change yet to watering restrictions for residents, farmers and nurseries. South Florida Water Management District Division Director of Water Resources Terrie Bates says that’s partly because there’s been no salt water intrusion or increased chloride levels in coastal wells. (SoTT)
Beginning on Monday, June 6, the S-65E navigation lock at the Kissimmee River and Lake Okeechobee will be closed with no locktender on duty due to low water levels in Lake Okeechobee.
When Lake Okeechobee’s water level decreases to 10.0 feet NGVD and lower, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) closes the S-65E navigation lock to boat traffic because of shoaling on the Lake Okeechobee side of the navigation lock and low water levels inside the lock chamber. The Lake Okeechobee water level today is 10.09
feet NGVD and has been decreasing rapidly due to evapotranspiration and below- normal rainfall.
The SFWMD operates navigation locks to provide the greatest access possible for the boating public while maintaining flood control and water supply for the region. Other navigation locks on the Kissimmee River will remain in operation.
North shore Lake Okeechobee navigation locks at J&S Fish Camp, Henry Creek, Taylor Creek, Buckhead Ridge and Lakeport all are closed with no locktender on duty at this time because of low water levels. The S-310 navigation lock at Clewiston is secured in the open position to allow boat traffic to pass.
The District will place the S-65E navigation lock back into service once the level of Lake Okeechobee has stabilized at 10.5 feet NGVD. Other District-operated navigation locks on Lake Okeechobee will be placed back into operation at lake level 12.5 feet NGVD. Navigation locks on the Okeechobee Waterway, which includes the Caloosahatchee River and St. Lucie Canal, are operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).
Access to Lake Okeechobee remains possible at boat ramps located inside the Herbert Hoover Dike. For a guide to recreation sites on Lake Okeechobee, including boat ramps and public parks. (South Florida Water Management District Division)
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