South Florida ag news colleague Katrina Elskin at Lake Okeechobee News follows up with more from last week’s South Florida Water Management meetings in West Palm Beach. Discussion topics included water storage options north of Lake Okeechobee, a topic of keen concern to farmers and ranchers alike in that region of the state.
WEST PALM BEACH (Lake Okeechobee News) — In the last legislative session, the State of Florida set aside $50 million to jump start a project to store water north of Lake Okeechobee. The challenge faced by the South Florida Water Management District governing board, is how to use that money to get the most “bang for the buck.”
“It all takes money to make things happen,” State Senator Gayle Harrel, who represents District 25, Martin, St. Lucie and western Palm Beach County, told the SFWMD governing board at their July 11 meeting.
“We really want to make sure we are doing everything we can north of the lake,” she said. “We are allocating this money to address that water that is coming into the lake. We want to store it up there, and not have it come into the lake and therefore not have it released into Lake Okeechobee and down through the St. Lucie Canal.”
In the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project (LOWRP), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposes a shallow (with water up to about 4 feet deep) Wetland Attenuation Feature (WAF) with a storage volume of approximately 46,000 acre-feet; 80 aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) wells with a storage volume of approximately 448,000 acre-feet per year; and two wetland restoration sites along the Kissimmee River, Paradise Run and Kissimmee River Center.