Tag Archives: STA

How Much Water Has Gone South to the Everglades? May to September, 2015, SLR/IRL

 

Everglades City, (Photo Jenny Flaugh (2012)
Photo from “Flight to Everglades City,” (Photo Jenny Flaugh (2007)
Evie and Jenny Flaugh during flight to Everglades with my husband Ed, 2012)
My niece Evie with her mom, my little sister, Jenny Flaugh. “Flight to Everglades” with my husband Ed, 2007)
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Robert Femema's presentation slide , GEER 2008.
Robert Fennema’s presentation slide , GEER 2008 about water going south to the Everglades…
SFWMD map showing STAs and WCAs. (Storm Water Treatment Areas clean the water of excess phosphorus and nitrogen from agriculture and developement via vegetation and then flow into the Water Conservation Areas, from here the water has been cleaned of phosphorus and nitrogen and hopefully meets standards that allow it to go into the Everglades.)
SFWMD map showing STAs and WCAs. Storm Water Treatment Areas’s (STA) vegetation etc. clean the water of excess phosphorus and nitrogen coming  from agriculture and development. Then the flows into the  Water Conservation Areas (WCA)/Everglades hopefully meeting standards.
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GOAL: Sending water to the Everglades!

The South Florida Water Management District did a great job “sending water south,” from May-September last year, so how are they doing so far this year comparatively? Recently I asked Dr Gary Goforth (http://garygoforth.net) if I could share his calculations:

Jacqui, As you know, my mantra has been to send the Lake water south – slowly but steadily – throughout the year.

This was echoed by Robert Fennema describing historical flows from the Lake to the Everglades in the same 2008 Greater Everglades Ecosystem Restoration (GEER) workshop as the Chris McVoy piece you referenced recently: “Persistent outflow along the southern shore provided the head to maintain constant flow through the Everglades.”

All the best,
Gary

Here are Dr Gary Goforth’s numbers:

2 years ago May-Sept: 32,032 acre feet to STAs
Last year May-Sept: 187,125 acre feet to STAs
This year May – Sept.: 95,600 acre feet to STA/FEB

He adds: “Jeff Kivett stated there was 60% probability of above average rainfall during the upcoming dry season and now is the time to keep the Lake low by sending it to the Everglades.”

Thank you Dr Goforth.

I have noticed, at recent meetings, speakers and scientists for the SFWMD note that rainfall and other issues have a lot to do with how much water they can send south. It would be wonderful if someone from the District could explain this in simple terms for the public and noting the goal for this year. Please feel free to participate in this blog.

As we all know, sending water south and working on more ways to achieve such is imperative for restoring the Everglades and for saving the St Lucie River Indian River Lagoon. This power point presentation by Robert Femema (http://conference.ifas.ufl.edu/geer2008/Presentation_PDFs/Wednesday/Royal%20Palm%20VI/1200%20R%20Fennema.pdf) was given in 2008 at the GEER conference and is another great resource for those of us learning as much as we can about creating a better water future for ourselves, our children, and grandchildren.

SFWMD Sending Water South Chart: (http://sfwmd.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapTour/index.html?appid=a9072c94b5c144d8a8af14996ce23bca&webmap=d8e767997b0d494494243ffbc7f6f861)

GEER 2008: (http://conference.ifas.ufl.edu/geer2008/presentations.htm)

This Year the SFWMD Receives an A+ for Sending Water South! SLR/IRL

This slide from Jeff Kivett at the SFWMD shows Regional Flows "south," for Water Year 2014-2015 or May 22014 thorough April 2015.
This slide was to sent to me from Jeff Kivett of the SFWMD. It shows Regional Flows “south,” for Water Year 2014-2015 or May 2014 thorough April 2015.
Map south of Lake O. showing EAA, STAs, and WCAs. (Map Everglades Foundation, public)
Map south of Lake O. showing EAA, STAs, and WCAs. Everglades is south as is Florida Bay. (Map public.)

I was a teacher for many years. I taught 8th, 9th, and 11th grade English and German. Throughout my career, whether the students were 13 or 17 years old, there was nothing better for them than “getting an A.”

I don’t think in my ten-year career, I ever gave an A plus.

Until now that is….  🙂

The South Florida Water Management District deserves an A plus for their creative, determined, and difficult work “sending water south” in a politically explosive environment. —-Probably the worst mine fields in the state…

For “WATER YEAR REGIONAL FLOWS May 2014, through April 2015” at least 585,000 acre feet of water was sent south to the Storm Water treatment Areas and into the Water Conservation Areas. This translated into 565,000 acre feet of water to starved Everglades National Park.

To appreciate this achievement one must compare:

This chart from Dr Gary Goforth shows water flow comparisons for water years 1995-2015. (Courtesy Dr Gary Goforth 7-22-15.)
This chart from Dr Gary Goforth shows water flow comparisons for water years 1995-2015. (Courtesy Dr Gary Goforth who worked for the SFWMD and was key in designing the STAs. 7-22-15.)

The chart above, courtesy of Dr Gary Goforth, shows acre feet of water going to STAs from 1995-2015. The highest number ever. The colors show the different STAs the water went through.

Sometimes when studying “sending water south” it gets VERY confusing as more water was sent south in 1995, but this water was sent when there were very few STAs and so Florida Bay got pounded with nitrogen and phosphorus laden Lake Okeechobee, and I would think some water from the Everglades Agricultural Area….

The Storm Water Treatment Areas clean the water…

It must be noted that some grading the system may think differently as South Florida certian water users and agriculture have been afraid we were, or are almost going into a drought or that the STA were overused. Some may say the ACOE and SFWMD district “should not have sent so much water south, but rather stored it in the lake…”  Maybe they are right. Today I will not judge, but reward.

So anyway, “to repeat myself IRL students,” 🙂  THIS YEAR THE SOUTH FLORIDA WATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICT HAS SENT MORE WATER SOUTH TO THE STAs THAN EVER BEFORE.

You may recall that the Army Corp of Engineers opened the gates to the St Lucie River on January 16th 2015 and this did not stop until late May. This water charted going south this year helped alleviate our destruction. It could have been worse… If they weren’t sending it south, it may have gone to “us.”

My hope is that water management becomes the top-cool thing to do for future generations, and that many River Kidz and even more young people from all over the world and our nation, come to our state to work, learn and study water management. It is a politically explosive and difficult work environment, but nothing is more important for the people and the for wildlife of our state.

I admit that I am part of that politically explosive environment..but my heart really is with the living creatures of the Earth and its waters. May we overcome our genetically wired warlike behavior, send the water south, and save the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon….

Thank you South Florida Water Management District for your outstanding work! Yes there are great difficulties, but for a better water future, we are counting on you!

The next generation! (Public photo of a shore bird baby in the Everglades.)
The next generation! (Public photo of a shore bird baby in the Everglades.)

SFWMD: (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/levelthree/weather%20%20water)

Great Blue Heron/Eye on the Horizon- St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Blue herons together in nest. Photo by Paul Shidel     2015.
Blue heron pair together in nest SLR/IRL. Photo by Paul Shidel, 2015.

In my youth, I remember a time in Rio, when my friend Vicki and I found a Great Blue Heron tangled in fishing line and hooks along the St Lucie River. Vicki, always being the leader, designated me to save the bird. I recall walking out into the shallow river and determining how I could help this gigantic and magnificent creature that stood almost as tall as myself.

The bird’s yellow/gold eyes were wild and frightened as it struggled against the line. To me, its markings resembled Indian war paint; its purple/blue coloring extraordinary.  I was inspired and scared by its strength, beauty, and fight to survive.

Vicki barked directions at me, threw me a towel, and some scissors. Being careful not to hurt the bird, I cut the line from the mangrove, bringing it into my arms, gently holding its sharp beak, and then trounced back up to the shoreline. Vicki’s older sister, Beth, drove us to a wildlife veterinarian who took the line and hooks off the bird and returned it to the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. This must have been sometime in the late 1970s…

The above photo, by local photographer, Paul Shidel, was recently shared, and brought back memories of this childhood experience. Birds tie into a week of blogging about destructive changes and history to the Everglades’ system.

James Audubon's "Great Blue Heron" ca. 1800s. (Public photo)
J. James Audubon’s “Great Blue Heron” ca. 1830. (Public photo)

Believe it or not, the National Audubon Society states that only 10% of the bird life remains in the Everglades compared to its pre-development glory. We are part of the Everglades. The Northern Everglades.

*90 % of the bird life is gone….

When you see a great blue heron know you are witnessing a “survivor.”

Have you ever watched them fly? Head forward; legs back; and a steady eye on the horizon. Completely focused. We too must keep our eyes on the horizon and be completely focused.

We have a long fight forward to save the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. And that we will.

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Great Blue Heron Audubon: (http://birds.audubon.org/birds/great-blue-heron)

Martin County Audubon: (http://www.audubonmartincounty.org/p/2/home)

* Eric Draper of  Florida Audubon quoted “90% loss of birds in the Everglades” 1-22-15 during his presentation to Martin County Audubon. This statistic is widely noted.

Search other blog post by subject at: (http://jacquithurlowlippisch.com)

Miami Herald article on Everglades bird population 2014/15: (http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article7956405.html)

Learning About Storm Water Treatment Areas, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Map of the 6 Storm Water Treatment Areas south of Lake Okeechobee. (Image courtesy of SFWMD, 2014)
Map of the 6 Storm Water Treatment Areas south of Lake Okeechobee. (Image courtesy of SFWMD, 2014)

This week, focusing on learning our Everglades-St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon history, we turn our attention to the Storm Water Treatment Areas, better known as “STAs.” These STAs are controversial in two areas that you may have heard about: “Can they hold more Lake Okeechobee water;” and “why does the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) get to put their water through them with priority over straight Lake Okeechobee water?” This short write-up will not explore these questions in depth, but rather give an overview of what the STAs are and why they are there.

The Florida’s Everglades Forever Act of 1994 (http://www.floridadep.com/everglades/efa.htmis the reason the STAs were constructed; the act mandated and funded construction of treatment areas for cleaning phosphorus from stormwater through “recreated wetlands.” The building of the STAs was basically due to a law suit from “downstream” as phosphorus, mostly coming from the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA), but also from other developed areas, was causing tremendous problem with flora and fauna and wildlife habitat as it flowed into lands south of the lake like the Miccosukee Indian Reservation, as well as Everglades National Park.

Presently, there are six STAs: “STA 1 West and East; STA 2; STA 3/4; and STA 5/6. They are read on a map “backwards” so to speak. You read them right to left, or east to west, like Hebrew. Maybe they built them that way…? This threw me off for a while, but now I’m getting it.

Anyway, let’s learn a little more.

STAs or Storm Water Treatment Areas take up phosphorus through aquatic plants. The dirty storm water from agriculture and development must be cleaned before it reaches the Everglades. (Image SFWMD, 2014)
STAs or Storm Water Treatment Areas take up phosphorus through aquatic plants. The dirty storm water from agriculture and development must be cleaned before it reaches the Everglades. (Image SFWMD, 2014)

The building of the STAs has been a huge success story and our own Martin County resident, Dr Gary Goforth, (http://garygoforth.net) worked intimately them when he worked at the SFWMD.

At present, 57,000 acres of land south of Lake Okeechobee, most once in the EAA, have been converted to STAs. In 2014 more water was put through the STAs than in years before as the SFWMD has been apparently afraid putting too much water through them would “hurt” them or they would exceed the phosphorus level allowed to go into the Everglades by a “consent decree.”  Dr Goforth had encouraged using the STAs to their full capacity, and so far, from what I hear, the STAs are doing well, maybe even better being fully utilized.

According to the ACOE Periodic Scientist Calls I attend, the only STA that does not seem to get used as much is STA 5/6 in Hendry County. Supposedly this has something to do with how hard it is to get water into the STA.

Hmmmmmmm?

Well that’s enough for today! Lots more to talk about though! 🙂

The SFWMD website below allows you to see “how full” the STAs are and if any more water can be stored in them: (http://sfwmd.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapTour/index.html?appid=a9072c94b5c144d8a8af14996ce23bca&webmap=d8e767997b0d494494243ffbc7f6f861)

Please see this SFWMDlink for an excellent and more comprehensive explanation of STAs:(http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xrepository/sfwmd_repository_pdf/bts_sta.pdf)