Late June is typically the time when the traditional rainy season begins in peninsular Florida, but so far it’s off to a slow start.
The Peace River’s flow in Polk County is running about half the long-term average at Bartow and even less downstream in Fort Meade because of water losses in the river bed caused by historic aquifer overpumping.
Farther downstream, flow at Zolfo Springs in Hardee County is about one-sixth of average flow and flow at Arcadia in DeSoto County, where phosphate mining is proposed near a major tributary, is about one-fourth of normal.
This is relevant as Polk continues to consider tapping a section of the river for future water supplies when the river flow allows.
As climate change continues to affect weather patterns, it is too soon to predict whether that will result in wetter or drier times in this part of the planet, but this is something to watch.
An active hurricane season could change all of this quickly as it did in 2004 when late summer water levels were alarmingly low until they weren’t and river flow surged to near record levels.