Yesterday, I listened to the South Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board meeting via Zoom. The overriding issue, besides the fact the St. Lucie River system’s C-44 Reservoir is not working, Lake O is over 16 feet and discharges could soon be imminent, was “high water in the Water Conservation Areas.”
What are WCAs anyway?
They were built as part of the giant drainage system of Florida that “over did it.”
The Water Conservation Areas were built to hold water because we had over-drained, but now sometimes they get too full…
In 1947 there was “the great flood,” that destroyed lands and properties in the seventeen counties of the Everglades Drainage District. This led to the U.S. Army Corps building the monstrosity named the Central and Southern Florida Project for Flood Control and Other Purposes (C&SFP.) The S.F.W.M.D. is the local sponsor. The two agencies work together.
United States Geological Survey explains:
“Historically, water flowed slowly southward through the Everglades in a wide swath. Record floods in 1947 and 1948 led to the construction of a massive flood control project. It served to prevent flooding and store water during dry periods. It also allowed for further development of the growing urban area on the Atlantic coastal ridge.
The project established three Water Conservation Areas (WCAs), one of which is the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. These areas are delineated in the Landsat images, clearly divided by the levees and canals. Also visible are the Big Cypress National Preserve, Everglades National Park, and Everglades Agricultural Area.Another part of the project is the 100-mile-long eastern perimeter levee, a 3- to 6-meter high earthen berm built to prevent flooding of farmland and urban areas. It runs along the eastern edge of the WCAs, marking a clear separation between the WCAs and urban areas such as Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Coral Springs.
Along with facilitating the further growth of the urban areas of greater Miami, the other upshot of the project was that the natural flow of water was interrupted, changing the hydrology of the region. The gradual sheet flow of freshwater is diminished, and instead sudden pulses of water are delivered by the canals. These sudden releases caused decreases in the numbers of fish species.”
The bottom line is that when there has been significant rain, like now, the WCAs overfill and the fur bearing animals are seriously at risk, unnaturally surrounded by rising water with no access to their habitat. Deer and other mammals have to take refuge on sacred Native American tree islands or on levees. Often, many species are desperately standing together. Friend and foe. All stressed, all scared, and all hungry.
In 1982 there was a so called “mercy-killing” of over 700 deer that were “starving” in the flooded Water Conservation Area 3. There are concerns that this year a similar situation could arise. I recommend watching the SFMWD meeting under section 28 and all public comments and more if you have the time. This is a very serious issue and no way to treat God’s creatures. How we treat humans during Lake O discharge events is bad enough. It is time to undo the past.