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Caloosahatchee and Estuary Conditions


River Woes Again in 2013

Link to more about the Caloosahatchee in the summer of 2013

Video of Ortona Lock on August 3

City of Sanibel from Mayor Ruane letters, July 30, 2013 to:
      Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto        South Florida Water Management District

South Florida Sun-Sentinel story with good overview, July 29, 2013

Corps To Utilize Maximum Discharge Capacities Starting July 25

"Thank you for your participation in the Periodic Scientists Call for Lake Okeechobee and Estuaries. Today, the Lake Okeechobee elevation is 15.62 ft, corps graphicNGVD, within the Intermediate Sub-band, and 0.19 ft from the bottom of operational High sub-band. The 2008 Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (2008 LORS) states that "when operating near band and sub-band limits, up to 30-day forecasts will be made and releases will be scheduled to lower or maintain Lake Okeechobee at the desired level during the 30-day period". Using the above referenced exception assuming the lake level in Operational High sub-band, Tributary Hydrologic Conditions very wet, and the Lake level projected to rise to High Lake Management Band based on 30-day meteorological forecast, 2008 LORS guidance allows for increase deliveries from the Lake resulting in up to maximum discharges to tidewater.

"Therefore, according to 2008 LORS Part D Guidance USACE's decision is to utilize maximum discharge capacities of Lake Okeechobee outlet structures towards St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries. The releases will start today, 25 July 2013 at 0900 hrs. These releases will continue until lake levels fall into operational low sub-band."   (target lake elevation is below 15.38 feet)

                   -- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers email to participants in Tuesday's Periodic Scientists Call


Heavy July rains are responsible for massive discharges of water to the estuary from the Caloosahatchee watershed and Lake O -- the worst since 2005, when the South Florida Water Management District reported that 450,000 acre-feet of storage had been identified to reduce damaging flows to the coastal estuaries.  We are still waiting for that storage to come on-line.

Caloosahatchee plumes

PDF with Map and photos of Caloosahatchee plume from July 2013

More Lake O graphs from the Corps:

Features of the LORS 2008 schedule
Lake O levels as of July 25, 2013
Lake O levels since January 2013 with notes about releases
Lake O position analysis




SCCF letter to SFWMD Governing Board, July 10, 2013

For the fourth year in a row, there are algal blooms on the Caloosahatchee in June.

River Woes in 2012

For the third year in a row, there are algal blooms on the Caloosahatchee because freshwater flow from Lake Okeechobee has been cut off.  Learn more...

A Broken System

The Lee County Health Department issued an advisory on June 7, 2011, recommending caution near the Caloosahatchee river because of  toxic algal blooms.  Read the advisory.  Glades and Hendry counties issued an advisory on June 10.  Learn about the algae.

A Connected System

Too much water. Too little water.

The Caloosahatchee and the waters surrounding Sanibel and Captiva are directly impacted by water management decisions affecting the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee. Historically not connected to Lake O, the Caloosahatchee now serves as the main release valve when lake levels have to be lowered. Conversely, the Caloosahatchee is cut off from releases during the dry season, when freshwater inflow is needed to maintain natural salinity levels and to keep the upper river from becoming stagnant. Click here to learn more about salinity, the Caloosahatchee and Lake O management.

Click here for Caloosahatchee Condition Reports.  The reports are prepared by the Lee County participants in the weekly Periodic Scientists Conference Call: Rae Ann Wessel and Dr. Rick Bartleson, SCCF; James Evans, City of Sanibel; Keith Kibbey, Lee County Environmental Lab; and Paul Tritaik and Tara Wertz, J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

Lake O Stats

Get current release data from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers web site:
S-77 (Moore Haven) releases from Lake O
S-79 releases from the Franklin Lock
Lake O levels graphic

Working to Protect Our Water


Resolution and Letter supporting releases to the Caloosahatchee from the Everglades Coalition in April 2011.  All 53 members of the coalition supported the Resolution.

Resolution of the Board of County Commissioners of Martin County supporting releases to the Caloosahatchee, dated March 15, 2011.

Letter from SCCF to SFWMD on March 14, 2011

The Rivers Coalition, a group of 55 organizations and businesses representing a community over 300,000-strong, advocates for the east coast St. Lucie river estuary. On February 9, 2011, they passed a Resolution supporting dry season flows to the Caloosahatchee. The Resolution was forwarded to the SFWMD and the Army Corps of Engineers. We are tremendously grateful for thier ongoing support. Click here to read the Resolution. Click here for more info on the Rivers Coalition.

SCCF wrote the Lee County Board of County Commissioners for assistance in providing documentation to provide a basis of support for providing water from Lake Okeechobee to benefit the estuary and river. Click here for Feb. 1, 2011 letter.

SCCF signed onto the November 2010 nomination of the Caloosahatchee as one of the Ten Most Endangered Rivers in the U.S. The nomination, prepared by the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, was also signed onto by Riverwatch (the Caloosahatchee River Citizens Association). Click here for PDF of nomination.

In July 2010, SCCF's Rae Ann Wessel and James Evans from the City of Sanibel's Natural Resource Department prepared a paper at the request of Vice Mayor Mick Denham outlining the inequities in the water management system. Click here for a PDF.

Updated 7/29/13