Tales of the Water Cycle

Sometimes a story has no other purpose than its on your mind and reader or listener be willing, here’s how it sort of goes. By the end you usually discover a kernel of truth. | Water Writings | Easy Trivia | Watersh-editorials | Dictionary | Bookshelf | aquatic-quandaries | Swamp rules | Tales of the water cycle | Ghosts of watersheds past | Watershed myths | Before and after | Speaking Water | Measuring Water | Fireside Water

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Tortoise and Hare of the Swamp
And why they both deserve participation trophies

South Florida’s water cycle …

Resembles the fable of the Tortoise and the Hare.

Rainfall is fast and evaporation is slow, but over a year they usually balance out.

Think of rainfall is the Hare.

Summer rains are drenching and drainage of the swamp’s flat landscape poor. That causes water to rise rapidly and stay there through the summer and into early fall. But come mid October the wet season ends.

That’s when the Hare falls asleep and the dry season begins.

The Hare sprints ahead from late May into early fall

Enter the slow and steady Tortoise:

Evapotranspiration is slow and steady worker – some would say inexorable. As dry season weeks turn into months and the Tortoise marches on, by some point in the winter and definitely by spring pretty much all the water in the swamp is gone. Or in other words, drought …

And yes, wildfires, too.

Come spring the Tortoise catches up

But not so fast.

All it takes is one big rainstorm for the Hare to wake up, hurdle the Tortoise and sprint ahead out of sight, but not for long. Unlike the real fable of the Tortoise and the Hare, south Florida’s annual race called the water cycle has no beginning or end. Or in more scientific terms: The swamp is a flood and fire adapted ecosystem. Every square inch of flora and fauna depend on a goldilocks dosage and return interval of flood and fire to maintain the health of the swamp mosaic.

And the winner is …

Moral of the story:

The Tortoise and Hare are both winners. Participation trophies for both!

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Tidbit: The south Florida rainy season lasts from mid May to mid October, or about 5 months.

“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.

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

Best Water Management Logo in Florida?
And the winner is (drum roll please) ...

You don’t know how difficult logos can be …

Until you try to make one yourself.

Florida’s five districts, plus the agency that unites them all

And now imagine having to make one that measures up to four other like organizations, and also resonates with the greater public interest it serves. Such is the challenge for Florida’s five water management districts. Water management logos are a lot like state flags. They contain subtleties and historical nuances that only an student of the genre or a long time local could fully understand. And I would imagine that each logo has evolved over the years. For all I know, as I type, one of the districts may be tweaking (or completely reinventing) its design. If I had to guess, I would say that the Suwannee’s is the most recently modified, in part because it’s such a departure from the rest — it doesn’t have a state map and in general is more minimalistic than the rest.

Things I like about each one: (1) for Northwest Florida it’s the grove of cypress and stand of long-leaf pine, (2) the Suwannee is its simplicity (and clarity) of color and words, (3) the St Johns River has a decidedly nautical feel, which probably makes sense given how far inland (161 miles from its mouth), (4) for Southwest Florida it has to be the background waves of the gulf, and how it reaffirms that the entire basin feeds the downstream estuaries, and (5) for south Florida is has to be the sun rays reaching out into an expansive yet cloudless sky (I can only assume the river is the Kissimmee).

Last but not least is the sixth: the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. It has general oversight over all five districts. As for which logo is the best, I think they are all interesting in their own ways. Which one I like best might depend on the day, or what district I live.

Aren’t our watersheds a little bit like sports teams? They bring us together as a community to root for the same cause and rally around the same logo. What’s your favorite logo, and why?

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Chronology: The South Florida Water Management District is the oldest of the five, forming in 1949, with the others following in 1977 as a result of the Water Resources Act signed into law by the Florida legislature in 1972.

Lost art of the morning commute
And why its better than a cup of coffee

The biggest challenge of being an adult …

Is the day in and the day out.

Available on Apple Podcasts and Podbean

And probably nothing personifies that more than the commute ride in and out of work each day.  Of course in modern times, the work team has become fractured by the unexpected but now ubiquitous rise of telecommuting.  Pandemic inspired, it seems to have become the “new normal” in many lines of work.  Much like cell phones have taken over the quotidian of what we once called our lives, I wonder what the telecommuting trend will mean for long-term team building in the work place?  As usual, nobody seems to playing to much attention to what may or may not happen, which brings us back full circle to the day in and the day out.  People usually do whatever it takes to get by.

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Unsure: There’s obvious benefits from working from home, but what’s the right balance?

Intro to the Water Cycle Approach
A step by step guide

Everyone loves the water …

But how do you stay in rhythm with it?

Bob explains the water cycle approach

Answer: It’s called the water cycle approach. In a nutshell, the water cycle serves as proxy and/or handy complement to the seasons. That’s particularly important in south Florida because we don’t have the traditional winter, spring, summer and fall that they enjoy Up North. For one, we don’t have snow. Two, spring is a time of drought not flood. Three, our clouds move the wrong way. The list goes on.

Make no mistake: The water cycle approach works in all climes, and for any watershed. But it also makes sense that it was invented in the Big Cypress Swamp. Why? For one, it took a National Park Service hydrologist to incubate on and implement the idea. Who else has one foot in the water and one in the data as much as me? Two, the swamp has an intermittently hyperactive and dyspeptically dormant water regime. Feast and famine happens every year, without fail. It’s called the wet and dry season. If water is life, the water cycle is also part sport in south Florida.

In my opinion, the water cycle is even more enjoyable (and rewarding) to tune into than your favorite home team. Disclaimer: I am both a Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins fan, although my hometown team and the team I love most is the Baltimore Colts.

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About Go Hydrology: We didn’t invent the water cycle, we make the water cycle better.