“Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.”
― Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
In the “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” the winds have died, and the sailors sit surrounded by ocean water and they are thirsty, but no water is drinkable…a Mariner passenger had shot the albatross following the ship, a sign of “good luck.” Now the sailors feel they are cursed—-surrounded by the ocean, having no fresh water….the water of life…The sailors glare at the mariner knowing he is the cause of their situation….They make him wear the dead albatross around his neck as punishment.
One could say, this tale applies to today’s South Florida as well…
The sailors are those living in Florida today wanting clean water.
The mariner, who shot the albatross, would be yesterday/and some of today’s agricultural and development interests; state, local, and national governments; agencies; even some of our ancestors…..ourselves?
Perhaps it is not that simple to casts roles, but I’m sure you get the point. There are questions the tale makes us ask:
Is there someone to blame? Will it help if we change our ways and realize we did something unwise? Will we, indeed, make it to shore?
In any case, today, we all sit here on this grand peninsula of Florida wondering how it could be possible that we are surrounded by water and yet have so many problems because of it….
Could it be possible that one day we will wish “we” did not shoot the albatross by allowing the Army Corp of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District to send so much of our fresh water out to sea?
And then there is the knowledge that one day, truly, we may not have enough water…Desalination plants are an option, but they are tremendously expensive.
Right now, as we know, there is a movement to “send the water south.” To keep more water on the land.
The key for more water on the land is land acquisition. As Mark Perry of Florida of Oceanographic preaches over and over again: “store, treat, and convey…”
Recently, I posted stating that according to Robert Johnson, the Director of South Florida Natural Resources Center, at Everglades National Park, 800,000 acre feet of water, goes south to the “southern estuaries.
“I made a mistake. “Southern Estuaries” refers to Biscayne Bay and such. “We” are the “northern estuaries”….So to correct myself, Mr Johnson’s slide below implies that only 67,000 acre feet of water a year goes to the SLR/IRL and 390,000 acre feet goes to the Calooshahatchee.
Mark Perry of Florida Oceanographic (http://www.floridaocean.org) disagrees; he says it is more than that. His research shows that the amount of water coming into, the NORTHERN ESTUARIES, annually, is around 1.4 million acre feet, with 442,000 acre feet going to the St Lucie and 976,000 acre feet going to the Caloosahatchee.
More easily translated, this is 20% to the St Lucie/IRL; 44% to the Calooshahatchee; 23% to Agriculture in the Everglades Agricultural Area; and only 13% to the Everglades. (See slide below.)
You know what?
In spite of the numbers, we all know “it” is a ton of water. More water than we can imagine. An ocean of water. Water we need for the Everglades and for the ourselves….
So let’s not end up like the sailors in the “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” with no water to drink, or the Mariner who had to wear the albatross around his neck as punishment for killing “life and luck.”
In fact, let’s change our luck. Let’s keep some of this precious water on the land rather than wasting it to tide.
As Mr Perry states in his slide show 1.7 billion gallons of water is wasted to tide per day through the canals of south Florida, translating into approximately, 5.9 million dollars a day.
Look up! Do you see an another albatross approaching our ship? I do.
Let’s allow it to fly with us this time, as we work for a better water future for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon…
ONLINE ASK: What does the Albatross symbolize in the rime of the ancient mariner?
The albatross in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is supposed to symbolize a good omen. The ship’s crew thought that it brought good luck. However, the Mariner shot and killed the albatross and so it became a curse. He was made to wear the albatross around his neck.
Rime of the Ancient Mariner: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albatross_%28metaphor%29)