Thursday, 12 July 2007 01:00
Tuesday, 10 July 2007 01:00
Monday, 09 July 2007 01:00
Monday, 04 June 2007 01:00
While it may have seemed like we got a lot of rain over the weekend, water managers say it will take many more Tropical Storm Barry’s to pull the region out of its record drought. But fire officials are thanking the tropical system for helping them contain several area wildfires.
Some areas of the Florida received up to 7 inches of rain as Barry swept across the state. Here in southwest Florida rain gauges showed between 1 and 3 inches of rain on Friday and Saturday.
Wildfire Mitigation Specialist with the Florida Division of Forestry – Jerry LaCavera – says that was enough to cool several large fires they’d been battling.
“We actually got enough rain so that we were able to put the level of containment on both the Hendry County fire and the Picayune Strand fire that was still open at 100-percent containment. The fire in Big Cypress was also able to move to 95-percent containment because of help we got from the rain.”
LaCavera says Barry’s rains will help keep the wildfire risk down for a few days at least, but that it’s still extremely dry and the fire risk still increased. And water managers say Barry did nothing to change their long-term outlook…and that water use restrictions are still in place, across South Florida.
Barry’s rains helped firefighters get a handle on several large fires they’d been battling in recent weeks. The fire in Collier County in the Picayune Strand State Forest is now considered 100-percent contained, as is another fire that had been burning in Hendry County.
Jerry LaCavera is Wildfire Mitigation Specialist with the Florida Division of Forestry. He says Barry solved an immediate need for moisture in critical areas, but that what’s really needed is a return to typical rain patterns.
“These once in a while large events are nice, but a lot of that water does run off because the ground’s so hard. We need the duration of rain to hit so they can soak in, do the good, and get both the water management water tables back up to where they belong, and the vegetation fully moisturized so we can lower the wildfire risk that way.”
LaCavera says the wildfire risk will be a bit lower over the next few days, but that the long-term outlook is still quite dry.
Water managers are reminding residents that Barry’s showers had no effect on water use restrictions…which are still in effect across South Florida.
Wednesday, 16 May 2007 01:00
Officials with the South Florida Water Management District are asking people to cut off the sprinklers because while recent rains are helping...much more rain is needed.
The rain that pelted parts of Southwest Florida these last couple days is a huge relief for an area thirsty from one of the worst droughts in state history. But officials at the water management district say there is a long way to go before water levels are back to normal. Three feet more to be exact. Service Center Director for the district Rhonda Hague says residents can help simply by turning off the sprinklers.
“When we do get these heavy rains like we did this week, your lawn doesn’t need anymore on top of it. If they’re watering right now after we got this rain, they’re actually wasting a resource. They’re wasting water and they’re wasting the power to sprinkle that water around. So it’s good all around if people turn off their sprinklers for a week.”
Hague says the aquifers can recharge a bit if people don’t take water out, for things like watering the lawn.
Monday, 07 May 2007 01:00
The national drought mitigation center has classified more than 90 percent of the state as being in some severity level of drought.
The Lake Okeechobee area is in extreme drought with West Florida in moderate drought conditions. Florida State Meteorologist Ben Nelson says records back to 1895 show this is the second driest April through March stretch.
“We know historically some of the worst droughts in our state’s history – the 1930’s, the 1950’s and even the 1970’s – all of those multi- year droughts coincided with very strong la nina conditions in that equatorial Pacific. So we’re not in a La Nina right now but some of the computer forecasts do indicate that we might slip into La Nina later this summer.”
La Nina’s cooler than average waters bring drier conditions. El Nino usually brings wetter conditions. The last El Nino Florida experienced didn’t stick around long enough to bring down enough rain. Nelson reminds folks though that it’s going to take much more than the summer rains to get out of this drought.
More than 90 percent of the state is experiencing drought – with the worst conditions in South and Southwest Florida – especially Lake Okeechobee – which is at its second lowest level ever says Florida State Meteorologist Ben Nelson.
“The lake level being this low, all of that sediment and muck that was pushed into the lake during the 2004 and 2005 hurricanes is being cleaned up right now by the water management district and they tell me that once our rainfall patterns come back, whether that be next year or the year after the lake will be much healthier than it’s been before. Another symptom of drought is wildfires and we’re going to have a rough couple of months here in May and June.”
The summer rains will be lightening which will spark more wildfires.
Governor Charlie Crist declared a state of emergency as 15 wildfires covering 1,400 acres ignited Wednesday night. 95 wildfires are active in Florida and they have consumed 11,000 acres so far this spring.
Thursday, 26 April 2007 01:00
As the drought in Southwest Florida continues – Charlotte County is stepping up its efforts to enforce water use restrictions.
Most of Charlotte County – except for the Babcock Ranch – and the area immediately surrounding it – lies in the Southwest Florida Water Management District. Faced with increasing demand and no increase in supply – in 2001 the district limited lawn irrigation to once a week. Charlotte County Utilities Leigh Spriemont says in light of the lingering drought – that rule will be more strictly enforced.
“We are going to be dedicating 3 of our staff members fulltime to enforce the watering restrictions and distributing the warnings. They will be assigned to specific parts of the county and will be driving around on the lookout for watering violations and issuing warnings and educational materials to ensure that our customers are aware of the restrictions and are following them”
Spriemont stresses that the restrictions include water from all sources – including wells on private property. Ninety five percent of Charlotte County’s water comes from the Peace River – the rest is slightly salty ground water that’s treated with reverse osmosis.
Charlotte County is stepping up enforcement of water use restrictions. Three staff members will be on the lookout fulltime for violators – issuing warnings and handing out educational materials about the need to conserve. Lawn irrigation in Charlotte County is allowed only one day a week – on Tuesday or Sunday – depending on address. Charlotte County Utilities Leigh Spriemont – says this means ALL water.
“our restrictions and the SW Florida water management district restrictions apply to all water sources – that include public water supplies like charlotte county utilities as well as private wells, canals, any water source other than reclaimed water is covered under those restrictions”
Most of Charlotte County’s water comes from the Peace River. The ongoing drought has significantly reduced flow in the river – leading to the increased effort to manage water use.
Thursday, 12 April 2007 01:00
City and County officials need to do more to increase enforcement of water use restrictions…that’s the word from the South Florida Water Management District.
Water managers held a workshop with officials from Lee and Collier County to share some ideas on just how best to go about enforcing the rules. Officials say this years’ drought is becoming one of the worst in the states history. And catching those who are using too much water is one way to help alleviate the problem. Susan Sanders, spokeswoman for the water management district says enforcing these restrictions falls on the local governments.
“The water management district by statute does not have the authority to…enforce restrictions on the consumer level. We deal with the large permitted projects. So that basically falls upon the jurisdiction of the local governmental entities.”
Sanders does say many people are not purposely breaking the rules, they just may not know what they are. She says one challenge local governments are facing when it comes to better enforcement is manpower and money.
Thursday, 12 April 2007 01:00
When Floridians see and hear Craig Fugate, they think Hurricane. But the presence of the director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, Craig Fugate at Thursday's South Florida Water Management District Meeting emphasized the severity of the on-going drought.
Craig Fugate was on hand to discuss the extreme water shortage and its’ impacts, especially on agriculture. And to announce yet another increase in water use restrictions. Some of those include; an extreme water shortage declaration for the Everglades agricultural area and a severe water shortage declaration for areas in Lee, Collier and Hendry Counties. Fugate says residents and businesses can help by simply following the rules.
“We’re talking about your drinking water system going dry…It doesn’t have to come to that, but if you don’t head conservation, you don’t restrict your use of water voluntarily, you don’t follow the water restrictions, ultimately bad things we don’t believe can happen, will happen to our community.”
The water management district says the recent rains are only a drop in the bucket compared to what is needed. And they warn that further tightening of the restrictions may be necessary if the drought continues.
Thursday, 05 April 2007 01:00
Floating trash and debris along some area canals is a problem Water District officials feel they can finally get a grip on.
The South Florida Water Management District’s Big Cypress Basin has a plan to deal with trash floating through canals into Naples Bay, which causes massive amounts of pollution. They deployed the first of many TuffBoom Barrier’s into the canal system Thursday. Crews put the first one at Golden Gate Weir number one. Tuffbooms is a floating barrier that pushes floating debris to the banks of the canal for cleanup. Big Cypress Basin director Clarence Tears, says the booms, similar to the types used in logging, should remain a permanent fixture.
“They should ultimately never have to be replaced, but what we may have to do…you know over time…is see if the angle that we’re trying to deflect the surface debris is enough. So there may be some fine tuning but other than that it will stay in place for the long term.”
Tears says the rains and floods from last year sent a lot of lawn and residential debris through the canals. Crews install the second of three booms Friday at Golden Gate Weir number two.