When the worst drought in years threatened the lifeline of water to the burgeoning population of Southern Florida, threatening countless farms and cities, South Florida Water Management District managers installed a new pumping system to overcome the challenge.
The South Florida Water Management district is responsible for regional water resource management and environmental protection in Southern Florida. It operates and maintains 1,800 miles of canals and levees, 25 major pumping stations and about 2,200 water control structures.
Lake Okeechobee has been referred to as the liquid heart of Florida with a surface area of 730 square miles. It supplies water to the canals that supply water to the Southern Florida region. When water levels in the lake were anticipated to drop to levels that could not sustain gravity flow to the canals, water managers began considering alternate measures to move water into the canals.
The district, after soliciting proposals from various sources, contracted with MWI Corporation to help design and implement a system that would pump water out of Lake Okeechobee into the canal system. Using state of the art rendering software, engineers at MWI presented the district with configurations that illustrated how this complex engineering dilemma could be solved.
MWI Corporation, a Deerfield Beach, FL, manufacturer of axial and mixed flow stormwater pumps, builds large volume pumps for projects around the world. The company specializes in developing custom pumps and solutions for flood control projects for organizations from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the government of Egypt. Initially gaining a reputation for building high quality hydraulically driven axial flow pumps, MWI subsequently began manufacturing extended lineshaft pumps and submersible electric pumps.
On the Lake Okeechobee project, MWI engineers, using existing structures built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, devised an ingenious method of installing stop logs and 42 inch diameter submersible electric pumps. Fourteen pumps, each individually pumping 45,000 gallons per minute, were installed at three lake outlets giving water managers access to an additional 450 billion gallons of water in the lake. The custom designed pumps in a horizontal configuration with wide flared intakes were designed, built and installed within 120 days.
Once installed, the pumps began pumping 24 hours a day, 5 days a week for five months until the crisis had passed and water levels began returning to normal levels. South Florida local governments and farmers were quick to applaud the foresight and decisive actions by the district.