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Facts about Okeechobee

Lake Okeechobee

Lake O is the largest lake in the Southeastern United States and the 2nd largest freshwater lake in the United States

"Okeechobee" is a Seminole word meaning "big water"

Lake O is over 730 square miles and can store up to 1.05 trillion gallons of water

In 1930, Lake O was 19 ft. deep; Since 1992, the average depth has been 9 ft. deep

Lake O can lose up to 1 inch of water a day due to evaporation

The sources of inflow into Lake Okeechobee are:
39% Rainfall, 31% Kissimmee, 30% Harney Pond, Indian Prairie Fisheating Creek, Taylor Creek/Nubbin Slough

Outflows from Lake O are:
66% evapotranspiration, 12% Caloosahatchee River, 4% St Lucie Canal, 18% drains south to Everglades


History of the Lake

Lake Okeechobee was formed about 6000 years ago

Before the late 1800s, Lake O was considered a myth by European settlers

The original lake was saline, but rainfall replenished it and made it freshwater

The bottom of Lake O was once sand

After major hurricanes and flooding in the 1920s, numerous canals have been dug to redirect water from the Kissimmee River and drain once wide littoral zones to create more land for agricultural use and housing. The hydrology of the Kissimmee-Okeechobee-Everglades drainage system has been greatly modified with diking and dredging to create farmland, control flooding, provide navigation, and create a water supply

Today, Lake O is a multipurpose reservoir providing drinking water for urban areas, irrigation water for agricultural lands, recharge for aquifers, freshwater for the Everglades, habitat (littoral zone) for fish and waterfowl, flood control, navigation, and recreational use