Water Bodies

Think of watersheds as giant outdoor stadiums where we root for our water team! As for the players? That would include the lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands, swamps and if you live by the coast also estuaries and saltwater bays. | 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

Intro - Favorites May Vary

For me it's a tie

By Robert V. Sobczak

It’s a tough question:

But for me it boils down to this …

I’ve found a lot of new friends in the swamp

The rose isn’t beautiful because it’s a rose, a rose is beautiful for the time you spent with it. For that reason, I would have to say I have two favorite watersheds. The first is Up North on the continent where I grew up in Maryland. And specifically Deer Creek, or maybe the Gun Powder River, too. The first feeds into the Susquehanna River and the second straight into the Chesapeake Bay. You can take a boy away from his childhood creek, but you can’t take the creek out of the boy. And no, that’s not because I got water in my ear. Although there is the story where I got submerged under the water at the rapids at King and Queen Seat. Even just thinking about Rocks State Park as I type pings at my heart with a deep sense of nostalgia.

Over the past twenty years, I’ve bonded with the Big Cypress Swamp in a way that rivals if not exceeds my childhood connection to Deer Creek. Partly that’s because I work there, and yes I specialize in the water, too. But it’s more to the story. The cypress trees and expanse of water and the swings between flood and drought. There’s a bit of magic in the Big Cypress unlike any other place that I’ve ever been.

So my favorite water body? I guess you could say a swamp and a stream. For others it could be a lake, a spring, an estuary or a gulf.

Whatever water body and watershed you enjoy. Let's all do our part to keep and make them the best. They deserve no less.

Recent Blog Posts

Mississippi South Florida Style
The Lake Okeechobee measuring cup

Hydrology numbers get big, confusing …

And obtuse.

Mississippi River’s annual discharged measured in Okeechobees

Millions of gallons per day, acre feet per year, cubic feet per second … the list goes on. The fact is, at some point it all just turns into a jumble of numbers. That’s where Lake Okeechobee comes in handy as a giant measuring spoon. Did you know that each year on average 100 Lake Okeechobee volumes worth of water discharges into the Gulf of Mexico from the Mississippi River. I could have said 400 million acre-feet of water, or some gargantuan number in gallons or cubic feet. But if you’ve ever stood on the levee of Lake Okeechobee and looked out at the expanse, it kind of puts it in perspective: The Mississippi discharges about one hundred Okeechobees into the Gulf each year. That’s one mighty river!

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Tidbit: The Mississippi River discharged over 160 Okeechobees into the Gulf during the flood year of 2000, and just over 60 during the drought years of 2006 and 2012.

Crossing the dotted lines
How invisible lines shape our thinking

Dotted lines warp our view …

Of how a watershed naturally works

Available on Apple Podcasts and Podbean

I‘m not saying let’s do away with the lines.

All I’m saying is let’s try to find some common ground.

As seen in Fakahatchee Strand Preserve

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.

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This Just In: “Fakahatchee Strand is getting a new visitor center at Big Cypress Bend, which will also lengthen the boardwalk.”

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Florida’s Water
And how we organize it, but can we save them?

Mention the name Florida and people probably instinctively think “the sunshine state.” But is there a state where water is more abundant and more central to how we think of the place? And I’m not talking the Atlantic or Gulf coasts, although you can add those in too. I’m talking about Florida’s 30 major basins, 5 major water management districts, 4 national estuary programs and 3 major aquifer systems.

Florida’s 30 major basins (it might be 29)

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How To: Visit every spring
And why its better than the beach

Of Florida’s 720 springs …

33 are first magnitude (orange).

Florida’s 1st, 2nd and 3rd magnitude springs

Another 342 are second and third order. Most of them are located where the Floridan Aquifer is exposed at the surface (shown in green above), or only shallowly submerged, thus allowing pressurized groundwater to wormhole its way to the surface. By definition, a first magnitude spring discharges at least 64 million gallons per day (100 cfs), or about 2.5 Fenway Parks (i.e. filled to the top of the 37.5 ft Green Monster). Silver Spring is currently flowing at about 20 Fenways per day. Not bad for a 65 ft diameter vent. Beach, spring, swamp or spring — it’s hard not to argue that seeing a spring isn’t the most impressive sight, and should be on the top of any tourist’s bucket list. As for seeing all 720, my recommendation is to start with Silver Spring or Weeki Wachee and go from there.