Water-Related News

2016 already a “disaster” for Caloosahatchee watershed

It's not even close to over, but Caloosahatchee advocates are already reaching to find ways to describe just how bad a year it's been for the river.

Last week, water managers and the wet weather presented them with a new milestone: 1 million acre feet of freshwater flows to the estuary.

It's only the ninth time in more than half a century that's happened, and if it keeps up this way, 2016 may go down as one of the three worst years since anyone began keeping records.

So how much is a million acre feet? If that much water were dumped on Lee County (the dry part, at least) we'd be 2 feet under.

If it were pumped into 20,000-gallon swimming pools, it'd fill 16 million of them.

And if you were a scientist trying to communicate the effect of all that water — even if you were a normally restrained sort — you might well use the word "disaster," as Riverwatch director and Hendry County engineer John Capece does.

"It's already been a horrible year, but if we are hit with a tropical storm, hurricane or just a bad rainfall event like we experienced in January and June, then 2016 could go in the records as one of the absolute worst years ever," Capece said.