How much water do I use per month?
My water bill read around 5,000 gallons.
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.
Talk about a leaky faucet!
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 …
Bobby Angel may not have all the answers …
But boy can he sing a Nature Folk ballad!
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.
One of the biggest myths of the swamp …
Is that it’s a watershed untouched by time.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
The Everglades are oligotrophic.
The canal below provides a direct connect between agriculturally enriched waters to the heart of the Everglades.
The result is a dense and growing thicket of willow and cattails in the middle of what should be pristine Ridge and Slough.
Filling in the canal and cleaning up the water seems like a good start.
It’s part of a plan gaining multi-stakeholder support.