How To: Fix a leak
Why dripping faucets bother me so much

How much water do I use per month?

My water bill read around 5,000 gallons.

Florida kitchen a hundred years ago

By “use” I don’t mean drinking it all. There’s the sprinklers, cooking, washing dishes and clothes, an occasional fill up of the pool, plus two bathrooms and showers.

Constant drip of water use

Still, doing the math, that works out to a hefty half tablespoon per second.

Talk about a leaky faucet!

Bobby Angel

Pre-Drainage Song
As sung around the campfire

Bobby Angel brings down the house …

With his sprawling masterpiece on the destruction of the Everglades and the power of dreams to both haunt us and inspire a new way.

If you’re a history buff …

You’ll rejoice in the many references to the pre-drained Everglades, how it changed over time, and our quest with hydrologic restoration to get it right.

Bobby Angel may not have all the answers …

But boy can he sing a Nature Folk ballad!

Mythical Big Cypress

Mythical watershed
How rain saved the swamp

One of the biggest myths of the swamp …

Is that it’s a watershed untouched by time.

A map of how water used to flow into and through the Big Cypress

So the story goes:

Unlike the highly-engineered Everglades management system that depends on a complex operation of gates, pumps, water treatment areas and regulation schedules …

The Big Cypress escaped from drainage unscathed.

A diagram showing how the modern “watershed myth” compares to the pre-drainage and actual present day condition (for the northeast corner of the Big Cypress)

The true(r) story:

Yes, the swamp gets most of its water straight from the sky, but it relies on upstream flows too. And here’s the big catch: The size of its upstream drainage (or watershed) has shrunk over time.

Or in other words, the swamp is (primarily) rain-driven because all the other “pre-drainage” sources of water got drained away or boxed out.

Timeline showing the history of drainage in the Big Cypress

The good news:

There are a lot worse fates that could befall an ecosystem than to become a watershed. And why cry over spilt milk of drainage past when there is a lot of work big and small that can be done to help achieve the goal of making the swamp the very best rain-driven work it can be.

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Before Canals

Yes, the Big Cypress is its own watershed …

And it gets most of its water straight from the sky.

As presented at the Big Cypress Symposium

But that doesn’t mean …

It hasn’t changed over the decades.

In fact, by the time the Big Cypress was saved from development – and designated as natural refuges, parks and preserves – a vast network of canals and levees had already been put in place.

Animation of how drainage altered the watershed

The result?

For one, the watershed shrunk.

The headwater delivery system that used to reach high up into the Caloosahatchee and Lake Okeechobee is now diverted to the coasts. Meanwhile, the water that used to flow into Big Cypress from the Everglades has been cut off, or even reversed.

Major drainage preceded conservation of The Big Cypress

We’re not saying we don’t love being a watershed.

It’s the best of all possible foundations to build on. The next step is doing hydrologic restoration projects great and small to get the water right.

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History of water

There was a time when the water just flowed …

Unfettered, free and without a thought.

A parable of a water manager with regrets

And then we built the original gate.

And one more after that, and then another and another until there were too many to count.

Nothing is more complicated than water management.

But let’s also face the facts: We brought it on ourselves.