Home Archived October 29, 2018

South Florida Information Access (SOFIA)

publications > paper > PP 1011 > south florida's hydrologic systems > water quality > water quality of lake okeechobee

South Florida's hydrologic systems

Water quality

Water quality of Lake Okeechobee

History of the Study
Regional System
Hydrologic Systems
- Importance of Water
- Aquifers
- Water Balance
- Hydrologic Changes
- Quantity Problems
- Resource Limits
- Quality
  -  Effects on man
  -  Big Cypress Swamp
  >  Lake Okeechobee
  -  Everglades
  -  Urban & ag. area
  -  Ground-water
Final Word
PDF version
Water quality in Lake Okeechobee has been degraded by large-scale inflow from streams draining agricultural land on the north side of the lake and from backpumping from canals in the Everglades agricultural areas to the south (Klein and others, 1973). Agricultural wastes are washed from farmlands into canals during heavy runoff. During high-water periods, excess water is often backpumped from the Everglades agricultural area into Lake Okeechobee to prevent crop damage. The average concentration of dissolved solids of the inflow from the north and from the Everglades agricultural area is higher than anywhere else in south Florida, excluding the saltwater areas, and at times it is more than three times the average in the Big Cypress Swamp. The relatively high concentration of dissolved solids is partly the result of irrigating with highly mineralized water (Klein and others, 1973).

Water-quality and biologic data collected in 1969 and 1970 indicate that Lake Okeechobee was in an early eutrophic condition then. The rate of eutrophication is of major concern because the lake is the primary surface reservoir in southeast Florida. Overenrichment could seriously impair its water quality and, thereby, affect downstream water users. The study by Joyner (1971) showed that the growth of algae increased greatly between January and July 1970. The dominant species also changed from a green alga, indicative of early eutrophic conditions, to a blue-green alga, indicative of late eutrophic conditions. The dominant algal species changed after a period of abnormally heavy rainfall and inflow from tributaries to the lake. Inflow was also increased at this time by channel improvement and accelerated inflow to the lake from its major tributary, the Kissimmee River. After channelization of the Kissimmee River, water flow through the marshes was reduced. The concentrations of blue-green algae later subsided (Joyner, 1974) but have generally remained above the levels recorded earlier by Joyner (1971).

< Previous: Water quality of the Big Cypress Swamp | Next: Water quality of the Everglades >

| Disclaimer | Privacy Statement | Accessibility |

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
This page is: http://sofia.usgs.gov/publications/papers/pp1011/wqlakeo.html
Comments and suggestions? Contact: Heather Henkel - Webmaster
Last updated: 04 September, 2013 @ 02:04 PM (KP)