Low lake levels worry Florida farmers

May 17, 2011 at 11:18 AM
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PALM BEACH, Fla., May 17 (UPI) -- Water managers in Florida say they may have to use pumps to move water from Lake Okeechobee for farms as drought has lowered the lake level 3 feet below normal.

If level of the lake falls another 1.68 inches, managers say, they'll have to install 14 pumps at three sites along the southern rim of the lake to substitute for gravity that normally allows for water flow, The Palm Beach Post reported Monday.

If the water level drops below 10.5 feet, there is insufficient water for gravity to pull it south through farmlands and into the Everglades, the newspaper reported.

Since the dry season began last October, only 11.75 inches of rain have fallen, the lowest since rainfall recording began in 1932.

Even with the rainy season expected in June, climate forecasts suggest the lake could experience low levels the entire summer, Peter J. Kwiatkowski, director of resource evaluation, said.

"The really sobering thing is that, come November, we could still be in a shortage," Kwiatkowski said. "That is not a good indicator of what we could be looking at for the next rainy season."

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