Watersh-Editorials

“Raining Cats and Dogs?”
Why it's time to retire the saying

When big downpours let loose …

It’s often said “it’s raining cats and dogs.”

Can you see the ___________ (correct answer)?

But that adage dates back to aegis of the industrial revolution in Europe when literally, after large rainfall events, stray cats and dogs ended up dead in the gutter.

Or at least that’s one explanation.

My proposal:

Why rake up old graves? Let’s let those poor strays rest in peace and replace that sad saying with an animal event that more accurately (and humanely) describes south Florida’s major weather events.

A downpour as seen through a windshield

My tentative proposal: A stampede of horses. More to follow.

Share with friends

Safety advice: Don’t be afraid to pull over on the side of the road if it’s raining too hard.

Major Water Speech
And it's relation to the smokey boiler room

When is it a good time …

To talk about water?

Burt’s Water Speech

Answer: Probably at any point during a campaign, or after it for that matter, too. To quote a close friend, water will always be on humanity’s Top 3 priority list. Family, peace, water. Maybe not in that order. In this epic speech, in true Burt fashion the candidate lays bare his passion for the substance at the same time he isn’t going to reveal his hand as to what may or may not be in his cup when he’s playing high stakes poker in the smokey boiler room at night. Why? If Burt understands anything in life, it’s how to play a hand, be it weak or strong. In his view, him revealing whether he’s drinking water or something else is akin to the most dreaded of card table (and/or negotiation) faux paus — a tell.

So you’ll just have to trust Burt when in comes to the water, or whatever’s he drinking.

Share article with friends

Reality: Water and politics go hand in hand.

Big Cypress Half
And why it's so important to the larger whole

Someone I greatly admired told me:

“We can’t spend 100 percent of our effort on half the problem and expect to solve the problem.”

Listen to the song

More specifically, he was talking about Everglades Restoration and the need to spend more time, energy (and yes money) on fixing the hydrology of the Big Cypress half. Part of the issue stems from how Big Cypress National Preserve and the larger Big Cypress half of the pond has been framed. Long perceived as an separate and isolated watershed from the Everglades to the east, there is growing recognition that the Big Cypress Swamp and the Everglades — and most of all the restoration of all the freshwater and estuarine habitats they contain and feed — are tied together at the hip. The good news: The tide seems to be turning. And just in time. With all the success being achieved in other parts of the Everglades, the Big Cypress Swamp is the new and important frontier for getting the entire ecosystem right.

As for the video: It’s an interview about a song I wrote at the retirement of a long-time ranger who worked at Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve. Both the song and the interview explore what I call the Big Cypress Paradox — the contrary state of the swamp being described as so many people’s “favorite part of the Everglades” only to have it drop to the bottom of the list when the restoration money gets earmarked.

Hydrologic resolutions
Or is it better phrased as a responsibility?

Does anybody make new year’s resolutions anymore?

One of mine this year is to drink less water.

The alligator does not drink up the water hole he lives in

Okay, I phrased that wrong: I meant use less water. The reason: By the end of the winter dry season, South Florida usually doesn’t have much to spare. Of course that usually doesn’t happen until spring — and specifically April and May — when the cypress domes and strands go completely dry. And I know what you’re thinking: Is there really a connection between how much was I use in town and the abundance or sparsity of water in the swamp? Increasingly, with the town moving east into the hinterlands that used to be the swamp, I would say if not a one to one drop exchange, the two are more intermingled than we tend to appreciate. Or maybe my point is this: When it comes to Big Water solutions to benefit humans, we usually don’t blink an eye. Well, I’m here to tell you the gators and all the other animals need there water, too. Hundreds of miles of canals and levees later, we built it (for us) and broke it (for them), therefore we own it and owe it to our region to get the water right.

My other resolution is to play the guitar more.

Steady decline
And can it be stopped?

Nobody can shut off a Florida Spring …

Or can we?

History of discharge (in cfs) from Crystal Spring, FL

The answer is yes. It happened to Kissengen Spring. Once a popular tourist draw and water hole, nearby groundwater pumping dried up the spring the river run it fed. But surely that could never happen to Silver Springs, a first order magnitude artesian spring. Some would call it Florida’s crown jewel. Just a few year back I was at the spring marveling at the volume of water it produced. If you’ve never seen a Florida spring, they are a “must see.” The water manifests itself as the surface as a crystal clear boil of rolling water flowing non-stop day and night all year long.

Looking back at the historical data for the site — and we should all thank the U.S. Geological Survey for having the foresight to start collecting it in 1932 — the volume of water gushing out of the spring has declined over the decades, starting in the 1990s and dropping down even more in the 2000s. The good news? Spring volume rebounded back to near normal levels (between 700-900 cfs) in recent years. It’s still not what it was (prior to 1990), and future depletion is a real threat. But there is a plan in place to save the spring and its flows. Click here to find out more.

Share with friends

Trends: Baselines decline over time that only an old-timer can tell you. And yes, please listen to them!