Friday, 15 December 2006 00:00
Forward PumpsWritten by Mike Kiniry
Water managers are preparing to install emergency pumps on the south end of Lake Okeechobee in case the lake’s water level gets too low.
2006 is turning out to be one of the driest years on record - and once the amount of water in Lake Okeechobee drops below a certain level, gravity will no longer direct its flow through existing structures.
In response, the South Florida Water Management District has purchased 14 massive, portable electric pumps in case it needs to move water out of the lake to meet demand from the area to the south.
Deputy Director with the watershed management department at the District – Susan Gray – says they haven’t started installing the pumps just yet.
“What we’ll do now is test the pumps and make sure they’re wired and have supporting infrastructure necessary to put the pumps in place. But because they can actually interfere with discharges under higher stages we wouldn’t actually install them until the lake was at 10 and a half.”
Gray says rainfall has been well below average in past few months… the worst drought the area’s seen the since the winter of 2000 and 2001.
The pump installation is temporary. They will be removed for use elsewhere once water levels in the lake rise.
The South Florida Water Management District has purchased 14 massive electric pumps – in case water levels in Lake Okeechobee get too low.
Water is pumped out of the lake to the south to meet demand from both homes and agriculture. But once it drops below a certain level – gravity no longer ‘works with’ water managers. Deputy Director of the District’s Watershed Management Department Susan Grey – says it’s been so dry lately that point is fast approaching.
“Lake Okeechobee level right now is 12.07 which is very unusual for this time of year. And it’s actually almost as dry in terms of lake stage as it was in 2001 – which was like a 1 in 100 year event. So it’s quite dry…we’re looking at potentially the second driest year ever.”
Gray says rain needs to fall to the north of the lake to really help the overall system recover from the current dry conditions.
The pumps won’t be installed until the lake level gets to about 10-and-a-half-feet.