MUSKEGON, MICH. - Part of the preparation plans in Florida happening right now include deciding when and how much water to release from reservoirs. The right decisions will minimize flooding.
And Muskegon water researcher Alan Steinman has insight on how that's done.
Steinman is now director at GVSU's Annis Water Resources Institute on Muskegon Lake. The center is home to dozens of fresh water research projects.
Before moving to Michigan, Steinman worked at the South Florida Water Management District. Among other responsibilities that state agency controls surface water in Florida.
"They have a control center in the main center in West Palm Beach where every molecule of surface water in South Florida can actually be manipulated through their pumps and gates," said Steinman.
Those pumps and gates help control water levels in reservoirs. Members of the S.F.W.M.D. are in hurricane mode. "They are making all sorts of operational decision right now," said Steinman.
In anticipation of heavy rain water is being released from Lake Okeechobee. It's basically a massive water reservoir.
"And that would create capacity to store water that would flow into the lake instead of flooding land," said Steinman.
"Florida is very flat, from Orlando to Florida Bay 200-miles the land drops about 20-feet."
Steinman has been monitoring hurricane Irma from Muskegon and he's concerned about flooding, damaging winds, and storm surge.
"The Florida Keys rise five feet above Florida Bay, so a 15-foot surge basically inundates all the Keys," said Steinman.
►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the WZZM 13 app now.
© 2017 WZZM-TV