Tag Archives: SOFIA

Over-Drainage and Overlooking the Obvious, Florida Legislature 2015, SLR/IRL

Cartoon Everglades Drainage, 1916 "Back to Broward,"http://historymiamiarchives.org/online-exhibits/everglades/glades.htm. (Shared by Sandra Henderson Thurlow)
Cartoon Everglades Drainage, 1916 Swamp Land Act of 1850 transferred swamp federal lands to the states.(http://historymiamiarchives.org/online-exhibits/everglades/glades.htm.) (Shared by Sandra Henderson Thurlow)

The 1916 cartoon says it all, doesn’t it? “You can have all these lands, if you drain and develop them….”

How does the saying go? “Be careful of what you wish for…”

We sure got what we wanted and more. We’ve gotten so much we’ve killed it, or are in the process thereof….Uncle Sam gave us a gift in the Swamp Land Act of the late 1800s and we, the State of Florida, have killed it–the Swamp that is…and even with the “retched swamp mentality” of the 1800s, no one, not even Governor Napoleon Broward himself, envisioned real estate surrounded by putrid, polluted water…

This year our state legislature did not seem to recognize the sense of urgency in Florida regarding clean water and the health of the state’s natural resource’s as reflected in their decisions made, or not made, this 2015 legislative session. Amendment 1 was all but ignored. But from north Florida’s springs, to the estuaries of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon and Caloosahtchee, to  Biscayne Bay the people of the state still recognize this urgency. And this urgency is not just answered by money. It can be answered by beginning to have real discussion state-wide on these issuers. Florida voters know our past and we know what we want for the future.

The will of the people will be done.

Repressed desires only get stronger….

We all know that there are many ways to help, and we must do all we can, but in the long run there is only one way to change the “big picture,” for South Florida.

There must be a  third outlet south of Lake Okeechobee as discussed since the earliest days of water management…we  must stop wasting 1.7 billion gallons of water to tide every day, stop creeping development into the remaining Everglades, and most important, the agriculture community in the EAA must actively become part of the land acquisition solution for reconnection of Lake Okeechobee to Everglades National Park.

Drainage canal being dredged Davie 11913.
Drainage canal being dredged Davie 1913.
Map showing Everglades National Park boundaries as well as Water Conservation Areas north of the park and other areas. (Map courtesy of Backroads Travels website, 2013.)
Map showing estuaries– now drainage ditches, Everglades National Park boundaries as well as Water Conservation Areas north of the park and other areas. (Map courtesy of Backroads Travels website, 2013.)
West of the red lines shows the edge of what was once the Everglades in South Florida. Development has crept and continues to creep over this edge. (Photo/map courtesy of Chappy Young,/GCY Surveyors, 2014.)
West of the red lines shows the edge of what was once the Everglades in South Florida. Development has crept and continues to creep over this edge. (Photo/map courtesy of Chappy Young,/GCY Surveyors, 2014.)
EAA below Lake Okeechobee. (Public map.)
EAA below Lake Okeechobee. (Public map.)

This excerpt is from SOFIA, USGA web site. They are a scientific, arm’s length division of the Federal Government: (http://sofia.usgs.gov/publications/fs/61-99/)

“Drainage and development of south Florida has had major environmental consequences in the Everglades. Saltwater intrusion into freshwater aquifers has extended as far as 6 miles inland from the coast in some areas. The land surface has subsided as much as 6 feet in some agricultural areas because of lowered water tables, oxidation of drained peat, and subsequent peat fires.

Mercury contamination of fish has resulted in a ban on the consumption of fish from the central part of the Park, WCA-2, and WCA-3 and is implicated in the deaths of endangered Florida panthers. Populations of wading birds have decreased by almost 95 percent from 1870 to 1973. In high-nutrient areas, cattails are replacing native sawgrass.

Plant and animal communities in the Everglades have been altered by changes in timing and duration of inundation; invasion of exotic plants as a result of drainage and land clearing, nutrient, and (or) contaminant-enrichment of water that flows into Everglades from agricultural and urban areas; and loss of habitat…”

Dead panthers from eating fish full of mercury?

This is not what we will leave our children…is it?

Toxic Algae bloom washes up  along the shoreline, St Lucie River, Riverside Drive, Stuart, Florida. (Photo Jenny Flaugh, 7-13)
Toxic Algae bloom washes up along the shoreline, St Lucie River, Riverside Drive, Stuart, Florida. (Photo Jenny Flaugh, 7-13)
Sign with Seminole in canoe 1913, Tamiami Trail. (Public photo)
Sign with Seminole in canoe 1913, Tamiami Trail. (Public photo)
Original flow everglades. http://seawifs.gsfc.nasa.gov/jason/HTML/EXPEDITIONS_JASON_7_croc_model.html )
Original flow Everglades. http://seawifs.gsfc.nasa.gov/jason/HTML/EXPEDITIONS_JASON_7_croc_model.html
)
Drainage today via canals.
Drainage today via canals.
Sofia map 2015.
Sofia Everglades drainage map 2015.
Our flag.
Our flag.

(http://historymiamiarchives.org/online-exhibits/everglades/drainage.htm)

EPA 2011 Review: Source for 1.7 billion gallons of wasted water to tide:( http://www.epa.gov/gcertf/pdfs/1120amintersectionoffl.pdf)
Early AOCE documents referring to a third outlet south of the lake: http://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2014/07/29/the-history-the-future-of-plan-6-and-sending-water-south-st-lucie-riverindian-river-lagoon/)

“Mueva el agua al sur!” South Florida’s Impacts and Needs, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Color graph showing land use and development possible through drainage and redirection of natural water flow in South Florida by 1953. (SOFIA, Robert Renken team 2000.)
Color graph showing land use and development in South Florida by 1972 made possible by drainage and re-plumbing of Lake Okeechobee waters to the northern estuaries. (SOFIA, Robert Renken team 2000.)

To understand the impacts on the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, it is necessary to look in beyond our boarders.  One of the most telling documents helping to explain why the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon is forced to take the over flow water of Lake Okeechobee (which in some years, since 1923, has been above 2,000,000 acre feet) is a document entitled “Synthesis of the Impacts of 20th Century Water Management Land Use  Practices on Coastal Hydrology of South East Florida,” by Robert Renken and other scientists  for the 2000 Greater Everglades Ecosystem Restoration Conference.

The full document is here: (http://sofia.usgs.gov/geer/2000/posters/use_impact/index.html)

Today I will show parts of this document as “food for thought.”

Chart 1, 1900
Chart 1, 1900.

As one can see above, in 1900, Lake Okeechobee overflowed naturally to the Everglades  to Florida Bay. The green on the eastern coast was a Florida forest.

Chart 2, 1952
Chart 2, 1953.

By 1953, the year after my Thurlow grandparents came to Stuart from Syracuse, New York, the Everglades Agricultural Area, (EAA), just south of the lake had caused the destructive redirection of Lake Okeechobee waters; this water was directed to the northern estuaries, the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon on the east, and to the Calooshatchee on the west.  More agriculture can be seen in dark brown along the eastern coast and south to Homestead. Forests in some areas remain (green). The yellow is urban development. There is some urban development but it is not extensive.

By 1972 when I was 8 years old growing up in Stuart, the EAA had morphed to gigantic proportions and coastal development had moved into the eastern Everglades.
Chart 3, 1972.

By 1972, when I was 8 years old growing up in Stuart, the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) now mostly sugarcane, south of Lake Okeechobee, had morphed to gigantic proportions (dark brown), agriculture had also expanded along the eastern coast, and coastal development (yellow) had grown and moved into the eastern Everglades.  

Chart 4, 1995.
Chart 4, 1995.

By 1995, when I was 31 years old, and teaching English and German at Pensacola High School, the EAA had achieved its 700,000 acreage south of the lake, and although there remained extensive agriculture (dark brown) along the east coast, excessive urban development had taken over many of these lands (yellow.)

Today, there is nothing but more rapid population growth projected for this area. There were 5,564,635 inhabitants of the Miami-Dade metropolitan area as of the 2010 Census; it is the most populous in Florida, and southeastern United States. It is the eighth-most populous area in the entire United States. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miami_metropolitan_area)

For me, this rapid population and agriculture growth is rather depressing, but I will say Ed and I had a great Cuban meal in West Miami at Islas Canarias Restaurant over the  Labor Day weekend…

At the end of the day, this area is going to need more water. With a growing population, documented salt water intrusion, and sinking aquifer level this part of the county will not stand the test of time unless it has more fresh water.  Perhaps they would reconsider re-plumbing the canals making releases to the estuaries?

“Move the Water South” may just start being chanted from Miami…

I hear it now, don’t you?

“Mueva el agua al sur!”