SFWMD takes ‘unprecedented actions’ to lower water levels

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FORT MYERS, Fla. – Up to 96 million gallons of water per day will be moved into an emergency detention basin as part of a number of “unprecedented actions” by the South Florida Water Management District to lower regional water levels, the agency announced Friday.

The basin, located in Miami-Dade County, is a 900-acre impoundment area used for local flood protection.

SFWMD will also inject up to 5 million gallons of water per day into the Hillsboro Aquifer Storage and Recovery Pilot Well, located on the Hillsboro Canal just south of the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.

The actions come one day after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied a request by the district to reduce the amount of water discharged from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers, describing it as “not responsible.”

Recent rainfall has resulted in record water levels at the lake, forcing the Corps of Engineers to release maximum levels of brown, murky water into the aforementioned rivers. The water has made for an eyesore on Gulf beaches, which residents, local officials and environmentalists say has negatively impacted the area’s economy and ecology.

Depending on the weather, it may be as early as April before the maximum discharges stop, the corps said.

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