Lake Okeechobee Water Levels 2021
The Big O
Lake Okeechobee provides a natural habitat for fish, wading birds, and other wildlife. It’s also a primary component of flood control systems and the water supply for South Florida. Okeechobee attracts boating and recreation enthusiasts every year from around the world. It is also home to a number of sport and commercial fisheries.
This famous body of water offers incredible bass fishing, a beautiful ecosystem, and scenic natural views. But more importantly, Lake Okeechobee and its wetlands center a much larger watershed that stretches from the Kissimmee River through the Florida Everglades into Florida Bay. Lake Okeechobee is the heart of the Kissimmee-Okeechobee-Everglades system.
Lake Okeechobee Lake Levels
The water levels on Lake Okeechobee are primarily dependent on rain and the Kissimmee River Basin, the main water supply for Lake O. The water level conditions on Lake Okeechobee will fluctuate about 3 to 5 feet per year.
Falling Water Level
The Big O water levels range from 14 to 16 feet above sea level during the winter. The water level during the winter on Okeechobee will consistently fall from January to June. Farming and evaporation are the main reasons for the changes in depth during the dryer time of year.
Lake Okeechobee Water Rising
The water levels of Lake Okeechobee during the summer ranges from 12 to 15 feet above sea level. Due to afternoon rain showers and hurricanes, the summer months are when the Lake Okeechobee water levels rise the quickest. The runoff caused by rain in the Kissimmee Valley, the land area between Orlando and Okeechobee, is the main reason for rising water levels in Okeechobee.
Click to see the live feed showing the current Okeechobee lake levels on the US Army Corp of Engineers Website.
This feed is provided via satellite pump and water flows, including all depth changes. It shows the current water levels in Lake Okeechobee, as it is constantly updating with autocratic water level conditions.
Herbert Hoover Dike
The lake provides flood protection with the Herbert Hoover Dike (HHD), a 143-mile earthen dam surrounding the lake. The dike reduces impacts from flooding caused by high lake levels for most areas of South Florida.
Okeechobee Health and Estuaries
In recent decades, the lake’s health was threatened by excessive nutrients from agricultural and urban activities in the lake’s watershed, by harmful high and low water levels, and with the spread of exotic vegetation. When levels have gotten high especially after past hurricanes, it was lowered via coastal estuaries. The lake’s discharges are very damaging to the estuaries.
Today, Lake O is used to store water from a 4,000-square-mile basin north of the lake. Historically, there were much more natural storage areas in central and south Florida. Today, most of these wetlands have been developed, leaving fewer places to store rain. Because of this, it is stored in Okeechobee. The Hoover Dike allows for additional water storage. But, this extra water is harmful to the lake’s ecology.