Dr Van Lent–Why an EAA Reservoir Will Help to Save the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Slide 1. (Dr Thomas Van Lent, Everglades Foundation, 2015)
Slide 1. Everglades Foundation, 2015.)

Today, I am going to try to simplify and share the idea of an “EAA reservoir.” You probably have been hearing a lot about this, but you may not know how it fits into a an option lands purchase and the “sending more water south” concept that will help save the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, and the Everglades.

This is not fully understood by me either, so I contacted Dr Thomas Van Lent of the Everglades Foundation; he sent me some information that today will share with you.

For me all of this is part of a “flow way concept,” though some may disagree.

Dr Tom Van Lent, Everglades Foundation. (Photo 2015.)
Dr Tom Van Lent, Everglades Foundation, (EF). (Photo 2015.)

(http://www.evergladesfoundation.org/about/staff/)

First things first.

LAND PURCHASE: In order to do anything that will actually take a significant amount of water off of Lake Okeechobee, so the ACOE doesn’t have to discharge to the SLR/IRL and Caloosahatchee, there needs to be land to “store, clean and convey that water south.”

Because over the past 95 years, the EAA took up all the southerly land to create their Everglades Agricultural Area, 700,000 acres of land south of Lake Okeechobee, we are “forced” to purchase lands in the EAA to move any water south. Thankfully, land is for sale; although US Sugar rather not sell it.  (Long drama….let’s just leave it at that–the land is for sale; I believe the state should buy it with Amendment 1 monies and /or “bond it.”) This Option 1, the brown lands below, runs out in October of 2015.

Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass, Option 1 is 46,800 acres and shown in brown. (SFWMD map, 2010)
Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass, Option 1 is 46,800 acres and shown in brown. (SFWMD map, 2010)

So after getting the land purchase necessity out-of-the-way, let’s look at Dr Van Lent’s write-up and slides:

Jacqui, I’ve attached a graphic that I hope will help explain.

I think everyone can agree that the best solution to the estuaries’ problems is to send more water south. But the major limitation to doing that today is (1) the water is polluted and would irreparably damage the Everglades and (2) the dams in the Everglades prevent you from getting the water out, so adding more water would drown tree islands and other habitats. So, the bottleneck to flow is actually further south, in the Everglades, and not in the EAA.

The solution is to clean the water and then remove the dams. But if you just pull out the dams so water flows when it’s wet, then the Everglades will dry up and burn when it’s dry. So an essential step to pulling out the dams is to add water supply reservoir so that you can keep the Everglades wet during droughts.

The Central Everglades Plan started to open up the dams in the Everglades, but was limited because it did not build any storage. With storage, you can open up the Everglades even more, sending more water south.—–Dr Van Lent

—-I have to say I don’t know much about the dams in the Everglades, but that’s OK, let’s move on….

 

Slide 1. EF.
Slide 1. (EF, 2015.)

(Refer to above slide.) Discharges to the Everglades are limited because the STA’s (Storm Water Treatment Areas) (1.) are too small and cannot clean enough water. Also, dams in the Everglades (2) limit the flow through the Everglades. This leaves the St Lucie/S IRL and Caloosahatchee (3) as the primary outlets for Lake Okeechobee.

Slide 2. (EF, 2015)
Slide 2. (EF, 2015.)

(Refer to above slide.) The “*Restoration Strategies” expansions to STAs (1) and water quality features in *CEPP (2) expanded the ability to treat Lake water going to the Everglades. Moreover, CEPP and Tamiami Trail (3) bridging opened up the Everglades to take more flow, improving conditions in the national park and Florida Bay. The means that significantly less water could be discharged to the St Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries (4). The EAA Reservoir (5) supplies water during dry periods so the Everglades remains set seven when the dams are removed. That is why a reservoir is critical to sending water south; it allows the dams in the Everglades to be breached.

Thank you Dr Van Lent!

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In case you are wondering, I have added the following below, to explain Dr Van Lent’s slide explanation.

*Restoration Strategies is basically making the STAs larger due to a long going law suit of the federal government against Florida that was finalized in the past few years under Gov, Scott. The lawsuit occurred because of the dirty water from Lake O polluting the Everglades: This IS happening and the state has to pay for it, 880 million.(http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xrepository/sfwmd_repository_pdf/rs_waterquality_plan_042712_final.pdf)

*CEPP the Central Everglades Planning Project of part of CERP (the Central Everglades Restoration Project.)(http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Portals/44/docs/FactSheets/CEPP_FS_September2013_508.pdfThis is a project that was “fast tracked,” by the ACOE and SFWMD. Congressman Patrick Murphy helped a lot with this. It was not taken on as part of WRDA the Water Resources Development Act that funds projects so it is still on the burner really and will have to be approved the next time a WRDA bill is passed by the US Congress. So right now it is NOT happening but hopefully will in the future…

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Whew!

In closing, I hope these slides, and the explanation from Dr Van Lent helped you in your journey of understand all this. I believe all these things are part of a greater whole. I am very appreciative to Dr Van Lent for sending the slides. What an honor to correspond with him.

When one looks at such, one certainly realizes we are planning for a far off future…and nothing is guaranteed. This can be discouraging, but don’t let it be!

It is our responsibility to the children of the future.

Please write a short email to the Florida Senate in support of purchasing Option Lands this 2015 Legislative Session: (http://www.flsenate.gov/media/topics/wlc) Thank you!

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Everglades Foundation: (http://www.evergladesfoundation.org)

18 thoughts on “Dr Van Lent–Why an EAA Reservoir Will Help to Save the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

  1. This reservoir would be a part of the Plan Six Flowway which the Rivers Coalition has been pushing for a decade. Readers can learn all about it at the Rivers Coalition.org website and at Florida Sportsman.com. It would re-wet a good portion of the Everglades and curtail discharges to the coasts and oceans.

    Big Sugar, and their influenced officials, have been against the flowway as the establishment continues to side with the over-drainage and pollution.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Your daily discussions are a real help to us non-experts who are trying to assemble the many pieces that form the “big picture” on Florida water issues. You are helping us to get educated and that helps make us more effective advocates. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. If elected officials that are currently in office had the respect and love for our waterways as you do we would be well on the way. Thank you for providing us with educational tools for all ages many folks are aware thanks to you
    .

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I know I am probably as popular as a porky pine in a petting zoo in this blog but my hope in saveing the lagoon is NOT with politicians spending this country into slavery. Every day I talk with average people about what has happened to the lagoon.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for the blog. Its great and supported. I think the people who run the website need to explain clearly who is behind the website. I know I asked you because the people all seem to be pr people from Tallahassee and it didn’t make any sense it just kinda popped out of the middle of no where. i think it could be a great success if there was more communication.

    Liked by 1 person

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