Lakes and ponds

Florida has thousands of lakes, with a third located in central Florida and most of them forming naturally where dissolving carbonate sediments left behind topographical depressions that have filled with water. | Major water bodies | Estuaries and coast | Rivers and creeks | Lakes and ponds | Springs and swallets | Canals and levees | Sky and clouds | Florida’s water districts | Underlying aquifers

Fakahatchee Freeway?
Deep Lake Road isn't bad either

Nothing against the number 29

In my mind it’s just as good as 41.

SR29 is more damaging than the Tamiami Trail

My beef is this: People drive on State Road 29 all the time thinking it’s just another country road. But how could they not? All anybody knows it by is the stand-alone and rather non-descript alphanumeric code — SR29.

The road is greatly underappreciated, and a missed opportunity in my book. Consider for example that it cuts through the heart of the Big Cypress Swamp, straddling two of the region’s most famous strands (i.e. Fakahatchee and Deep lake Strands). And did you know it passes right by Deep Lake, one of South Florida’s most iconic natural ponds? The Lake in fact was the road’s original destination … before it got extended north. And here’s what bugs me most about non-descript SR29: it completely severs flows to the crown jewel of the Big Cypress ecosystem — Fakahatchee Strand. 

Call me a dreamer, but in my opinion a name change (i.e. rebranding) to the road could be the first step (i.e. a catalyst) to getting it fixed. How does Fakahatchee Freeway or Deep Lake Road sound?

Mysterious curve in the road
The destination that time forgot

Have you ever driven on a road …

That has a mysterious bend?

View from the bank of Deep Lake

Available on Apple Podcasts and Podbean

Top on the list for me is State Road 29, and more specifically the semi-circular curve around 9 miles north of the Tamiami Trail. I’ve been driving up and down that road for over twenty years. And at that curve I always have the same thought: Why in the world did they build the road so close to Deep Lake? At its closest point the road comes within 500 feet of the lake, not that you can see it. More prominent are the stately royal palm trees that rise above the forest of cypress on either side. Further in their is a hammock of high ground and next to it the lake. And not just any lake, it’s the swamp’s deepest lake: Five times deeper than Lake Okeechobee and under 1 percent its volumetric size. But still: Why would anyone build the road so close?

Answer: Modern-day engineering actually curved the road away from the lake. It’s not much of a curve, but it’s better than it was. In the pre-cursor of what eventually became SR-29, Deep Lake was actually the destination that people went to see, and where the road ended in fact. Compare that to today . Most people drive by Deep Lake not even knowing the Lake is there, with a handful of those drivers left to think: “–What’s up with this strange curve?”

animation tree

Geology of a tree?
When a topic gets away

Have you ever started on a topic …

Only to get distracted on a different path?

Brought to you by Firelight Radio

I started off trying to talk about geology, but the next thing I knew I was rambling on about a tree. But not just any tree! And that’s when it suddenly dawned on me: cypress trees first took root in south Florida in the footprint of the Lake Okeechobee some six thousand years ago. None of those trees are still living today, but there is one special cypress tree on the outskirts of Lake Okeechobee that may very well be the most famous tree of all. The only problem: it got stuck on the wrong side of the levee. In this podcast, I explore the options for connecting the “lone cypress” with the larger ecosystem. And BTW: the Firelight Radio podcast is hosted by a guitar, i.e. you can’t have a nature-folk movement without a guitar by a campfire … that’s just obvious.


Volume of Deep Lake
Using the BOE approach

There’s a lot of sophisticated models out there …

But my favorite is called the BOE.

Sometimes simple math is the best

That’s short for “Back of the Envelope.”

Using the BOE approach, I estimate there are about 72 acre-feet of water in the approximately conical lake. Or in other words, it holds about the same volume of water as filling the Boston Red Sox Fenway Park up to the top of the 37-ft high Green Monster (i.e. Left Field Fence). The lake is about as deep as the distance from home plate to first base. Or in swamp terms, about two mature cypress trees high. Meanwhile, it holds fifty times the depth of a fully flooded cypress dome. And did you know the lake is meromictic below 75 ft? That means it’s bottom sediments do not circulate to the surface. Compare that to Lake Okeechobee that at a maximum depth of 20 ft it’s 5 times shallower than Deep Lake and constantly circulating its basal sediments back into the water column.

Deep Lake
Or is it only pond worthy?

By most metrics,

Deep Lake should be called a pond.

Assorted views of Deep Lake

Considering that it’s only 300 feet across …

And its circumference is 300 feet less a quarter mile, that sounds more like a pond. But if you consider that its open pool is five times deeper than Lake Okeechobee’s 20-ft depth, and – here’s the icing on the cake – that it isn’t enclosed by a 35-ft tall levee, thus allowing its waters to naturally overflow into the swamp.

By definition, that sounds like a lake to me.