Tag Archives: ” SLR/IRL

Is it Time to Address South Florida’s Greatest Taboo? “Shared Adversity,” SLR/IRL

LAKE OKEECHOBEE REGULATION SCHEDULE (LORS) http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Portals/44/docs/h2omgmt/LORSdocs/2008_LORS_WCP_mar2008.pdf

The second she said it, I was at full attention. This past Tuesday, Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation Director, Ms. Rae Ann Wessel, spoke on the Army Corps of Engineers Periodic Scientists Call. In seven years of listening, in seven years of agency and public comment, I had never heard, seriously, and scientifically, someone address South Florida’s greatest taboo.

Ms Wessel said something like this:

Part of the LORS (Lake Okeechobee Release Schedule 2008)  addresses “shared adversity.” Lake Okeechobee is approximately 470,000 acres. Would it be possible to put the water the Corps plans  to release from the lake over approximately 484,000 acres of  crop lands just south of the lake, rather than into estuaries? The Caloosahatchee algae situation is already at its absolute worst…

You could hear a pin drop…

Wessel was recommending options to the Army Corps and stakeholders regarding the ACOE restarting discharges to the estuaries. Since the previous week’s call, due to NOAA images showing 90% of the lake covered in cyanobacteria blooms, and crisis of algae in both estuaries, the Governor and other powerful politicians asked the federal agency to temporarily stop discharges considering all options before discharging, once again.

Just the previous day, before Wessel’s comment, after viewing the putrid algal mess in the Caloosahatchee, Gov. Rick Scott called for a State of Emergency encompassing seven counties.

Some history, earlier this year, the Caloosahatchee was almost begging the South Florida Water Management District and ACOE for water, but was denied. Now the Caloosahatchee is receiving so much water, with algae to boot, that they are experiencing a toxic summer similar to what the St Lucie experienced in 2016. The Caloosahatchee has had it especially tough this year.

The elephant in the room, or perhaps better described as the Tyrannosaurus rex in the room, is that with Lake Okeechobee over 14 feet, and the fact that we are now approaching the most turbulent part of hurricane season, the ACOE “has to start releasing again,” like now! And everybody knows this.

Therefore, Rae Ann was looking for options, for sharing adversity, and this was fair as the Calloosahatchee has bore most of the adversity this year. She wasn’t talking about flooding the cities in the EAA, she was inquiring about flooding the fields, by less than a foot of water that would evaporate quickly at that extension and depth, maybe stressing but not killing the crops. Sugarcane in particular, is a hardy and durable crop for intermittent periods of water.

Shared adversity… Certainly, the estuaries have have their “fair” share…

So why does the ACOEhave to dump to the estuaries? Why is it taboo to talk about flooding the fields? Because although the 2008 LORS talks about shared adversity the EAA is federally protected by an older and more important document. 

The ACOE in not a teacher picking favorites, they are the military taking orders from Congress.

The federal “law,” connected to the Central and South Florida Project (http://141.232.10.32/about/restudy_csf_devel.aspx) is complex, but perhaps best explained by sharing an excerpt from the book, River of Interests, by the Army Corp of Engineers. Page 35, discusses the 1948 Central and South Florida Project, what it did, and requires of the ACOE.(http://sccf.org/downloadable-files/5b465bf85f38152b048d1cce.pdf)

First, the Corps would build a levee from northwest Palm Beach County to the south of Dade County along the east coast, thereby preventing flooding from the Everglades to the coastal communities. Second, the Corps would modify control facilities and levees around Lake Okeechobee in order to create more water storage, and it would increase the discharge capacity from the lake in order to prevent flooding. Third, the Corps would create three water conservation areas in Palm Beach, Broward and Dade counties for water storage. Fourth, the Corps would construct canals, levees, and pumping stations to protect 700,000 acres of agriculture south of Lake Okeechobee in Palm Beach, Hendry, and Glades counties, known as the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA). Fifth, the Corps would build canals and water control structures to handle drainage in Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Martin, and St. Lucie counties.

This bolded section is the key, this is why Rae Ann Wessel’s question rung so loudly in the silence of the ACOE call. For the ACOE, it is “understood,” that no matter the case, even with LORS, and in spite of “shared adversity,” that 700,000 acres of agriculture fields, south of Lake Okeechobee is to be protected from flooding destruction.

But as we all know, nothing lasts forever.

Just like other laws of our great county, some do, indeed over time, become outdated for the times. Things change. Among other issues, in 1950, when the Central and South Flood Project law was structured and voted upon to protect the crops in the EAA as part of flood control  2.81 million people lived in Florida. Today, 20 million people reside here. In the old days, the discharges did not have the impact as they do today, the rivers were healthier, and the Lake, it wasn’t so polluted. But now, seventy years later, water quality, pollution, and human health issues have risen to a point of question. “In emergency situations”, is discharging cyanobacteria water from Lake Okeechobee into the now heavily populated areas along the estuaries to prevent flooding of the Everglades Agricultural Area in the state’s best interest, or is it archaic, like the T-Rex in the room?

It might be time to re-evaluate South Florida’s greatest taboo.

s.wordpress.com/2018/07/img_2525.jpg”> Caloosahatchee algae bloom 7-6-18, photo courtesy Dave Stone.

[/caption]Links:

What is the Everglades Agricultural Area: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Everglades_Agricultural_Area

Gov.Rick Scott State of Emergency proclamation: https://www.flgov.com/2018/07/09/gov-scott-issues-emergency-order-to-combat-algal-blooms-in-south-florida/

SCCF: (https://fortmyersbeach.news/rae-anne-wessel-of-sanibel-captiva-conservation-foundation/)

What are the ACOE Periodic Scientists Calls? Former blog post 2014: https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2014/03/06/the-acoes-periodic-scientists-call-and-the-indian-river-lagoon/

The Politics of Algae, “God Save the Queen,” SLR/IRL

Present Lake O algae bloom, as first publicly reported June 2nd, has grown to approximately 253 square miles. Although larger, this bloom appears less dense from space than either the June 24th or July 2nd 2016 images –  that measured approximately 239 square miles. Image courtesy of Todd Thurlow, 6-20-18. See other satellite images here: http://www.thurlowpa.com/LakeOImagery/

The algae in Lake Okeechobee is Mother Nature’s political checkmate, the time in chess in which the King cannot escape…

Thank you to Department of Environmental Protection Secretary, Noah Valenstein, whose Emergency Order directed by Governor Rick Scott, announced yesterday,  will implement an array of new actions to move more clean water south into the conservation areas and away from the estuaries.

f=”https://jacquithurlowlippisch.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/photo7.jpg”> SFWMD’s Home Page for Sending Water South. (http://sfwmd.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapTour/index.html?appid=a9072c94b5c144d8a8af14996ce23bca&webmap=d8e767997b0d494494243ffbc7f6f861)%5B/capt
Make no mistake about it, this order happened due to Mother Nature’s “check.” The algae in Lake Okeechobee is exploding at record speed – see above image from yesterday, 6-20-18.

Sending algae that is potentially toxic to the communities of the St Lucie River and the Caloosahatchee is political suicide even for the Army Corp, an entity that is basically untouchable, like a King.

But since the state is legally in charge of water quality, not the Corp, the order comes from Florida’s Executive Branch as they, became aware of the seriousness of the problem. The Corp has reported they were lessening discharge amount anyway, however, they did not recognize the health threat of the algae…

Nobody wants to purposefully poison the estuaries, but the Federal Government and the State of Florida does when algae, potentially toxic, is sent through gates connected to Lake Okeechobee. We are all in a difficult situation, a chess game whose rules are outdated and were created years ago…

And even if there is “limited capacity” to move water south, it can be done. “Something” is “everything” in this water game of chess. We must take what we can get, check the King, and then go back for more – the goal to close the gates forever. “Checkmate.”

In my opinion, this emergency order is a real move that will send more water south and help reinforce a “send water south,” political culture that all Florida must embrace!

God Save the Queen, our one and only, “Mother-Nature.”

(I have updated this post due to spelling errors, etc.. 6-24-18. Sorry. I, like everyone, am exhausted. JTL)

LINKS: 

[/caption]June 21, 2018 PRESS RELEASE SFWMD

SFWMD Takes Additional Action to Send Water South Under Direction of Gov. Rick Scott; Issuance of Emergency Order
~District measures underway to help lower water levels, reduce need for Lake Okeechobee releases to northern estuaries: http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?m=1117910826311&ca=88c832d4-c24e-4928-ae9d-96e80ad4ee21

6-20-18, Politico, reporter Bruce Ritchie, Lake O Discharges Raise Ire From DC to Tallahassee: https://www.politico.com/states/florida/story/2018/06/20/lake-okeechobee-discharges-raises-ire-from-dc-to-tallahassee-480899
Checkmate:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Checkmate

6-20-10 Palm Beach Post Associated Press: https://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/local/florida-gov-rick-scott-urges-lake-discharges-sent-south/EWNzmsDxs2oBjnuwAqnRKM/

6-20-18: Press Release Office of Governor Rick Scott.: https://www.flgov.com/2018/06/20/gov-scott-directs-dep-to-take-steps-to-curb-potential-algae-blooms/

6-21-18 Col Jason Kirk, Viewpoint Lake Okeechobee,Editorial, Sun Sentinel, http://www.sun-sentinel.com/opinion/commentary/fl-op-viewpoint-lake-okeechobee-army-corps-20180620-story.html

6-23-18 Ed Killer, Did Rick Scott Save Summer? TCPALM: https://www.tcpalm.com/story/sports/2018/06/23/campaign-strategy-doing-right-thing-you-judge/727278002/