Why is it So Hard To Send Water South? SLR/IRL

 

WCAs public photo
Water Conservation Areas as seen below the Everglades Agricultural Area. South Florida is compartmentalized to control water to “protect” farms and people ….this does always work.

We are in rain-year not seen before….

The state is overflowing…..

Our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon is again being destroyed by too much fresh, dirty, water….

Why is it so hard to send this water south?

It is “so hard to move water south” because the state of Florida has been compartmentalized to protect the Everglades Agricultural Area south of Lake Okeechobee and to keep-dry much of the lands that we live on. And now our waters are polluted…

Imagine, if you would, what would be going on here in South Florida now if modern man had never “conquered” it….Basically it would be a clean free-flowing marsh all the way from Shingle Creek in Orlando through Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades.

Well that it is no longer the case, is it?  Since the 1920s, and more so since the 1940s, these lands have been drained, and diked, and altered, so that humans can grow food, and live here –inadvertently polluting the system. It is an imperfect situation and we must try to understand it, so we can make it better as we all need clean water.

1850s map of Florida
1850s map of Florida
Today's flow from Lake Okeechobee. (Image Everglades Foundation.)
Today’s flow into SLR and Caloosahatchee from Lake Okeechobee used to flow south.

So for the everyday person trying to figure out “what is going on” right now, let’s take a look at “today:”

  1. It has been raining lot. Since the end of January, the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon and Caloosahatchee are being destroyed once again as the state of Florida and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers dump incoming waters out of Lake Okeechobee so that the Everglades Agricultural Area south of the lake and surrounding communities are not flooded. Drainage and property in our area is part of this too.
  2. A rare situation occurred this past week where Florida’s governor, Rick Scott, issued an order to release water south through a canal into the Everglades. He had to confer with the US ACOE to do this. (Due to poor water quality and safety,  just “sending water south” is not allowed. But now with so much water, it is an emergency.)
  3. The Water Conservation Areas south of the EAA, —these gigantic areas (see bottom slide) that are considered part of the Everglades and full of wildlife and in some places sacred Native American tree islands, are so full of water that they have to be dumped first. If they are lowered, then more water can enter from the Everglades Agricultural Area and hopefully Lake Okeechobee itself. Then, and only then, would there be less dumping into the St Lucie River/IRL and Caloosahatchee. We have a long way to go and its not even “rainy season.”

I commend all those working hard to alleviate the overflowing system and I encourage investment in working to improve this relic as well as investment in the children who must be part of the goal to re-plumb this system. Dr Gary Goforth shows us how it is working right now as I asked for a simple explanation to share with the River Kidz.

Gary Goforth
Gary Goforths’ image to explain “water going south.”

“Jacqui—

Due to increased stormwater pumping from the EAA and surrounding areas and direct rainfall, the water levels in the WCAs are too high. Last week the Gov. sent a letter to the Corps requesting authorization to raise water levels in the Tamiami Canal allowing increased flows into the Park through Northeast Shark River Slough. Yesterday the District began making those increased discharges through structure S-333. Whether or not the District will send additional Lake water south is yet to be seen – lowering the stage in the WCAs should help. See the map above. (from page 2 of the attached).”

Gary (http://garygoforth.net/resume.htm)
______________________________

Here you can read: Press Release Gov. Scott

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 11, 2016
CONTACT: GOVERNOR’S PRESS OFFICE
(850) 717-9282
media@eog.myflorida.com

DEP and FWC Issue Orders to Allow Army Corps of Engineers to Ease Effects of Flooding

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) issued orders that will allow the U.S. Army Corps to move more water south through Shark River Slough to ease the effects of flooding in South Florida. Click HERE (http://www.flgov.com/wp-content/uploads/pdfs/FFWCC.pdf)
to see the orders.

Earlier today, Governor Scott sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to take immediate action to relieve the flooding of the Everglades Water Conservation Areas and the releases of water from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Estuaries. To read the letter, click HERE (http://www.flgov.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/2.11.161.pdf).

South Florida and WCAs
South Florida and WCAs

WCA 3B: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/wca3b.pdf

SFWMD WCAs information sheet: http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xrepository/sfwmd_repository_pdf/jtf_wca_management.pdf

SFWMD: Just the Facts on this rain year: http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xrepository/sfwmd_repository_pdf/jtf_2015-16_dry_season_rainfall.pdf

9 thoughts on “Why is it So Hard To Send Water South? SLR/IRL

  1. Keep up the great work….We got a front page story in the Ft. Myers NewsPress on Riverwatch (www.crca.caloosahatchee.org) over here on the west coast. United we stand, divided we fall. Phil Schwartz

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Jacqui – I am going to post this directly to your blog instead of private email. Maybe Gary Goforth can help if he is looking here. I never got a chance to ask him directly. This is what I mentioned back on 2/7:

    “Right now (at home over my turkey sandwich) I am looking at the status map asking: Why are the WCAs rising while very little water, if any, seems to go out to the New River (S-34) and the Miami River (S-31), which are historical tributaries of the Everglades (they even had rapids!) — all while we are getting dumped on because the WCAs are over schedule?”

    On that day S-34 was at 0 cfs. Now I see that it is at 233 cfs. A drop in the bucket compared to the 7523 cfs that has been hitting the St. Lucie for days.

    That S-333 you mention doesn’t seem to flow to the Park but instead to the Miami River also. (Someone correct me if I am wrong.) It was at 0 cfs on the 4th and is now at 1200 cfs. Even if that water isn’t going to the Park, at least it is going south and not east/west – but why the wait? The system is more complex than we will ever understand but the more we understand the better. Thank you, Gary, Mark Perry and others for keeping everyone informed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Todd – you’re absolutely correct – the New River and Miami Canal were historical tributaries of the Everglades.

      “Why are the WCAs rising while very little water, if any, seems to go out to the New River (S-34) and the Miami River (S-31)?”

      The short answer is that flood protection for the suburbs of Ft. Lauderdale and Miami takes precedence over conveyance of floodwaters from the water conservation areas. The intervening canals are operated to provide flood protection to the urban areas between S-31/S-34 and the tidal structures (S-26/ – similar to S-80 in the C-44). When heavy rains occur in the suburbs, the canal capacity is primarily devoted to moving the stormwater out of the basin. After the storm events and water levels in the canals subside, S-31 and S-34 can be opened to move so-called “regulatory releases” out of the water conservation areas. This is similar (although not exact) to how S-308/S-80 and the C-44 Canal is operated – flood protection of the local basin takes precedence over Lake releases.

      “why the wait?”

      Opening S-333 allows water from WCA-3 to move into the Tamiami Canal (aka L-29 Canal); the one-mile bridge along Tamimi Trail allows water from the Tamiami Canal to enter Northeast Shark River Slough (see the map I sent to Jacqui). S-333 couldn’t open without special authorization from the Corps to allow the water level in L-29 Canal to rise, which Gov. Scott requested in his letter last week, and the corps granted this week.

      Hope this helps,
      Gary

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Last week a monster right whale and her calf entered the Indian River Lagoon at sebastion inlet. To my knowledge this has NEVER happened before, Do you think it is possible her senses remembered a long ago memory of fresh water waves churning violently in coquina shells? Our lagoon is in transition, I am certain as to what happened to it , But the who and why I do not know, You are right when you say to much dirty water is coming through your locks. There is not one green water plant in ANY of the canals coming out of lake O

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The word phytoplankton comes from the greek language. It means PLANT—WONDERER— They are nutril buoyancy and drift in currents feeding copepods and antripods. Right now our lagoon is full of these single cell plants. I think this mother and baby whale are waiting for tides clean out our lagoon and bring food to the ocean. Coral are also dependant on these CALCIUM rich plants. I hope one day our tax money would be used for something usefull like raiseing cultures of good phytoplankton using muck and calcium sand , These could feed our ocean and bring back our coral reefs

    Like

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