Tag Archives: WCA

Stuart to Chokoloskee; EAA Reservoir Between…

 

Pin is location east of EAA Reservoir area; Stuart is blue dot, and Chokoloskee is next to Everglades City on lower west coast.

The day began with smoke, smoke off the sugarcane fields.

Yesterday, Ed and I took a flight from Stuart to Everglades City, passing Chokoloskee and photographing the EAA Reservoir lands along the way. It is huge out there in the “Everglades,” seemingly endless. The easiest way to get one’s bearings is to look for the Miami and New River Canals that run south of Lake Okeechobee. Highway 27 parallels the New River Canal; where the red balloon is located above is the area east of where the EAA Reservoir will be constructed. For more specifics see link (https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/tag/a-1-aerial/)

For Ed and I the flight, although hazy, was an opportunity to learn to recognize from the air Water Conservation Area 3, just south of the EAA Reservoir Area. The water conservation area lands are not located in Everglades National Park, but water quality is protected.

“To me these are the Everglades,” Ed said looking down.

“They are but they aren’t,” I replied. “They are part of the Central and South Florida Project, they are not natural; they are controlled. When they are too full from EAA water, the water from Lake O is not allowed to go south. If too full, from rain, or otherwise the animals can drown. Trapped on the tree islands raccoon, and deer, and panther together. Terrible.”

“Why can’t the water just flow south,” Ed asked.

“Lot of reasons, people like to say it’s because of an endangered bird, but its bigger than that, mostly because we have chosen to make it that way, and powerful entities keep our legislature from changing it in spite of what the voters say.” (SFWMD Constraints: https://apps.sfwmd.gov/SystemConstraintsDataApp/)

Ed did not reply.

We looked forward to what appeared to be little hills. The cypress domes of Big Cypress National Park reflected in the sunlight, and I could see “end of the earth” Chockoloskee right next to Everglades City in the distance. Pretty…

I can understand why people like to live down there so far away from everything. But they too can not escape our problems ~not with water.

WCAs: https://archive.usgs.gov/archive/sites/sofia.usgs.gov/virtual_tour/controlling/wca.html

Water Conservation Area 3: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_Conservation_Area_3

Big Cypress National Preserve: https://www.nps.gov/bicy/index.htm

Chockoloskee: https://www.florida-everglades.com/chokol/home.htm

Cape Seaside Sparrow:
http://www.wlrn.org/post/controversial-bird-should-everglades-restoration-hinge-single-species

https://sofia.usgs.gov/projects/atlss/sparrows/ibsemabgeer00.html#fig1

https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/seaside-sparrow

Water Conservation Areas
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Smoke rises over sugarcane fields southwest of Martin County near the Palm Beach Canal
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Smoke, canals, sugarcane fields

 

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Belle Glade, FL south of Lake Okeechobee
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Ed asked what this is. Not sure flooded fields, mining?
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Flowing Highway 27, the A1 on west side begins to show. Now a Flow Equalization Basin this land was once the Tailman Sugar Mill and is located on the east side of where the EAA reservoir is to be constructed.
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Looking west of A1 towards A2 where EAA Reservoir is to be built
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A1 from another position
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The North New River Canal to Ft Lauderdale now follows Highway 27. It once was in isolation as people used the canal to get to and from Lake O from the mouth of the New River
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Water Conservation Area 3 (WCA3) lies under A1 and A2 area; although not part of Everglades National Park, it’s water quality is protected:

Continue reading Stuart to Chokoloskee; EAA Reservoir Between…

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)

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)

Understanding the Water Conservation Areas, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

This image shows the Everglades' three water conservation areas (WCAs) just under the storm water treatment areas (STAs) south of the EAA. (Image courtesy of (http://sofia.usgs.gov/virtual_tour/controlling/wca.html
In red, this image shows the Everglades’ three water conservation areas (WCAs) just south of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA.) (Image courtesy of (http://sofia.usgs.gov/virtual_tour/controlling/wca.html)

Yesterday, reviewing Everglades/IRL history, we learned about Storm Water Treatment Areas (STAs) that clean Lake Okeechobee water going to the Everglades; today we will take a look at their “older brother and sisters” the Water Conservation Areas ( WCAs),changed but remaining parts of the Everglades, that deliver water to Everglades National Park, and are protected as part of the Everglades themselves…

The Water Conservation Areas, the three large red images in the photo at the beginning of this blog post, comprise 900,000 acres. For reference, the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) is 700,000 acres. As we learned yesterday, the STAs were built in 1994; the WCAs are were  developed/created in 1948.

According to United States Geological Survey, (USGA,) the WCAs were developed as part of the (1948) Central and Southern Florida (C&SF) Project.

To me, this is ironic, as I consider the C&SF the nail in the coffin for Central and South Florida. (http://www.evergladesplan.org/about/restudy_csf_devel.aspx)

It followed tremendous flooding  in 1947, and inspired the widening and deepening of the C-44, (St Lucie) C-43, (Caloosahatchee) canals, the building of C-23, C-24, C-25 in Martin and St Lucie Counties, as well as many, many, other projects around and south of Lake Okeechobee. The Army Corp of Engineers did what they were charged to by the state and the US Congress, and as usual they did it “too well,” over draining the state with the continued destruction of the northern estuaries.  On top of that, today we waste on average 1.7 billion gallons of valuable water to tide every day. (Florida Oceanographic Society, Mark Perry.)

So anyway, the WCAs were also “created”during this time; they on the other hand are a good thing…

According to the USGA web site:

They were designed for use as storage to prevent flooding, to irrigate agriculture and recharge well fields and as input for agricultural and urban runoff. 

They are also recharged by rain, but leeves were built around the WCAs so water flows into them and then slowly streams into Everglades National Park by the hand of man, not Nature…

The USGA also states that:

Historic flow of water and the quality of water through the WCAs have been greatly reduced. These conditions have resulted in decreased wading bird populations due to shortened hydroperiods, invasion of the native environments by exotic plants and fish, and conversions of sawgrass communities to cattail/sawgrass mixes.

Recently, Martin County’s Dr Gary Goforth (http://garygoforth.net), formerly of the SFWMD, and one of the primary creators of the STAs, has been revealing publicly at River Coalition meetings and SFWMD meetings  that although more STAs have been built since 1994 to bring and clean water into the WCA/Everglades, less water is actually getting there!

2014 was the first year in ten years that a substantial amount of water (over 250,000 Acre Feet) was sent south. (See chart below.) This is odd isn’t it? And until last year, most of that water was EAA water used to water their crops, not “overflow” Lake Okeechobee water.

Dr Goforth's chart showing amount of Lake O. water sent south to the STAs from 1995-2014.
Dr Goforth’s chart showing amount of Lake O. water sent south to the STAs from 1995-2014.

I believe it was the public outcry that inspired the ACOE and SFWMD to send more water south last year through the STAs and WCAs.. .The problem lies with the SFWMD and ACOE mostly because in 1994, by law, phosphorus was limited into Everglades National Park. This is understandable, but adds to our St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon continued destruction.

Even with all of the STAs and the WCAs nature cannot take up all of the man-made phosphorus and nitrogen from farming and development. So what can we do?

We must return more of the EAA land to nature or at least “man-made” nature…we must purchase the option lands….

Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass, Option 1 is 46,800 acres and shown in brown. (SFWMD map, 2010)
Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass, Option 1 is 46,800 acres and shown in brown. (SFWMD map, 2010)

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USGA: (http://sofia.usgs.gov/virtual_tour/controlling/wca.html)

STAs: (https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2015/01/20/learning-about-storm-water-treatment-areas-st-lucie-riverindian-river-lagoon/)

Purchasing option lands:

(https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2015/01/12/what-are-our-options-for-sending-it-south-st-lucie-riverindian-river-lagoon/)

(https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2015/01/15/water-water-everywhere-st-lucie-riverindian-river-lagoon/)

(www.jacquithurlowlippisch.com)