Archive for water flow

More water storage is needed to protect estuaries

Storing polluted water that flows out of Lake Okeechobee is one way to improve the quality of the water that flows into coastal estuaries, and that is part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. But even more water storage than what the plan has prepared for is actually needed, according to an environmental conference, Naples Daily News reports.

In the article, the Everglades Foundation said it would like to see the sheet water flow south from the lake as it originally did, but that time and funding are running out so it might not happen.

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Let’s hear the whole story from both sides

Last night while making dinner, my ears perked up when I heard ABC News’ report on the water war between Georgia and Florida. (The Web version is different from what was aired because there were other people interviewed last night I didn’t see in the Web version.) I felt frustrated after watching the report because it seemed skewed in favor of Georgia. I recall only one person from the Florida side of the story interviewed last night (which didn’t make it into the Web version). In addition, the report pitted federally endangered mussels and sturgeon in Florida (without even mentioning the Apalachicola River, if I recall correctly) against people in Georgia who just want a drink of water, saying essentially, aren’t people more important than endangered species?

I do believe people are more important than endangered species, of course, but this report didn’t tell the whole story. There’s more at stake than the fish in the river that gets its water from upstream Lake Lanier in Georgia. The whole Apalachicola River ecosystem is at stake. The fresh water from the river that flows into the bay — well, that bay depends on that water, too.

Also, I’d like to hear more about the details of the water restrictions in Georgia. If the restrictions are anything like what I see in my water-restricted community, then I would say, “Yes, saving river ecology downstream is more important than washing your car and allowing municipalities to water concrete sidewalks in the middle of the day when most of the water evaporates anyway.” I’m not saying let Georgia residents be thirsty and dirty — but I am wondering (since ABC News isn’t telling) just what they are doing to conserve water.

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Ocklawaha River will provide water to more, but not as many as expected

The Ocklawaha River will be used to meet the needs of some central Florida counties, but not as many as originally proposed, the Ocala Star-Banner reports. Lake, Marion and Putnam counties will take water from the Ocklawaha, but not also Orange, Volusia or Seminole as originally planned. The article says, however, the same amount of water will still be pulled from the river: up to 90 million gallons per day when flow allows. But one Marion County commissioner claimed the decision as a “half victory,” as with fewer counties taking water from the river will make it easier to discuss how to protect the river, the article says.

The Ocklawaha River’s water is being divvied up among central Florida water utilities, even though Marion County — where the Ocklawaha mainly flows — had said other counties needed to leave the river alone. County commissioners had expressed concern that the river and Marion County’s other water sources like famed Silver Springs were being “sacrificed” because other counties had allowed too much population growth before checking whether there was enough water for all of the people.

Recently, many water utilities are looking for ways to provide water for a thirsty population, and especially now during a period of low rainfall, it seems water conservation is more important than ever.

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Dry rainy season = parched winter and spring

With less than two months left of our rainy season (hint: it’s the same as hurricane season), many water managers are shaking their heads about Florida’s drought. The dry conditions are visible at the Green Swamp, which is the headwaters for four major rivers, and as the St. Petersburg Times reports, “If the water levels in the Green Swamp are low this late in the rainy season, it foretells a parched spring. It means more water restrictions, more dry lawns, more wildfires.” The article predicts another fight over water.

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Apalachicola River continues decline

I guess there’s no real news here — but the Tallahassee daily paper the Democrat published an article about the continuing decline of the Apalachicola River as the states of Florida, Georgia and Alabama continue litigation over water supply into the river. The article said it could be another 10 years until the issue of water flow is finalized, and by then it could be too late for the river.

If you’re not familiar with the dispute, it goes something like this: Georgia (and to a lesser extent, Alabama) depends on water from the Chattahoochee River. That river flows into Lake Seminole on the Florida/Georgia border. The Apalachicola River flows out of Lake Seminole and down into the Gulf of Mexico, where the town of Apalachicola sits and is the site of a major oystering industry. When people upriver pull water out, that means less water for the Apalachicola, and Floridians are concerned for the wildlife (like the striped bass the article highlights) and for the health of the Gulf, including the oysters. That’s a simplistic view of the dispute, but there’s the gist of it….

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Lake O to be filled with less-polluted water?

Instead of filling Lake Okeechobee with polluted water from farms as I blogged about earlier this week, now water managers are considering back-pumping filtered but still somewhat polluted water from the Miami Canal, this Sun-Sentinel article reports. This change is considered a better alternative. The reason for filling the lake with the water is to help out the farms around the lake that depend on the lake’s water for irrigation. But what about our drinking water supply? South Florida Water Management District board members, still weighing the risks, are expected to vote on filling the lake today, the article reports.

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Rains bring water flow into Lake Okeechobee

All this rain we’ve been having is paying off for Lake Okeechobee, according to the news, like this article in the Orlando Sentinel. Thanks to the rain, water is flowing from the Kissimmee River south into the lake — for the first time in eight months! Lake O is still three to four feet below normal, the article says.

Water flow into and out of Lake O is a sensitive subject. If you’re not familiar with it, here’s just a tiny bit of history. Water used to flow naturally into the lake from Central Florida rivers, then south into the Everglades and on into Florida Bay. But after hurricanes caused the lake to flood the farming communities that had sprung up around the lake — especially the 1928 hurricane that killed around 2,500 people — the lake was dammed. Now the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages the flow of water. Too little or too much water, and the ecosystem can suffer. Many people who live to the east and west of the lake, where the Caloosahatchee River flows into the Gulf of Mexico and the St. Lucie River flows out to the Atlantic Ocean, are concerned about water releases into these rivers. Too little water into the Everglades can cause saltwater intrusion and may be one of the reasons Florida Bay is suffering. Maintaining a water-flow balance seems hard. The Army Corps is said to be looking into new ways to maintain a better balance. Let’s hope so, for the sake of our rivers, estuaries and Everglades.

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