Can you see the S-12A?
How about now?
Here’s an even closer view:
To the left of the red Mack truck.
The river is still there …
You just have to look to find it.
As for the canal:
It’s easy to find.
It’s deeper, wider, longer and straight as an arrow …
And parallels modern-day Immokalee Road.
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.
Dotted lines warp our view …
Of how a watershed naturally works
I‘m not saying let’s do away with the lines.
All I’m saying is let’s try to find some common ground.
This National Park Service placard at the trailhead to Big Cypress Bend boardwalk has always intrigued me.
It’s a state trail, part of Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park which was established in the mid 1970s. So the placard predates the dotted lines that eventually went in, but to me – both then and today – it’s a reminder that our modern-day boundaries are not set in stone, nor should our thinking simply stop wherever they start and end.
That’s probably why if felt so good to meet up with Fakahatchee’s long-time biologist at a culvert site on Jane’s Scenic Drive. With great enthusiasm Mike said, “Bob, we need to work more together.”
Enthusiasm across dotted lines is not only contagious …
It’s our best path forward to getting the water right.
The good news is …
We finally figured out the problem.
The only catch is …
It could take a week or two for the part to come in. In a nutshell, there’s a high pressure system forming over the southeast United States. That will pump dry air into Florida into next week.
After that, around Memorial Day, expect the rain machine to start cranking up.
The L-28 isn’t your normal levee.
It’s in the middle of nowhere …
With swamp as far as the eye can see on both sides.
The structures on the Caloosahatchee …
Serve the dual mission of navigation and water management.
Additional note: The Ortona lock and dam (a bit unwittingly) fills in as the modern-day proxy for the ghost of Ft. Thompson Falls as well. While the lock itself is located about 7 miles upstream of the old limestone run of rapids, it functionally holds water back the same way, if also at a lower level. Unlike the S-79 in Olga or the S-77 in Moore Haven, boats have to be raised and lowered a solid 5-10 feet in the lock.
Note: Both photos are taken looking southwest and both show the original S-333 in the background (i.e. left)
Previously just one, now there are two structures sending water east out of Water Conservation Area 3A towards the three new bridges that span Northeast Shark River Slough.