Aug 10, 2011

Flowing glades of yore

We measure flow at gates …

But the goal is to get water flowing in the wetlands.

Illustration of sheetflow in motion
The short name for that is sheetflow. 

 In this article, John Ogden – the director of the Tropical Audubon Society and former chief environmental scientist at the South Florida Water Management District (and who was also, once upon a time, the lead scientist at Everglades Nat’l Park) and suffice it to say is one of the if not the foremost experts of the Everglades – describes his recipe for what we need to do to get Everglades Restoration back on track.


By his calculations …

The Everglades needs an additional one million acre feet of water per year. That doesn’t seem like much when you consider on average over 3 million acre feet of south Florida’s water is discharged into the Atlantic Ocean each year. We call that wasting water to tide. On the other hand it’s about twice the current volume of Lake Okeechobee, which at 10.25 feet above sea level still requires special pumps to get water out.

Shark River Slough needs more water
to make sheetflow work

There’s a saying that water has a mind of its own.

Or in other words, once you give the Everglades its water, it’ll know what to do with it. For one, it will send water on its way the old fashioned way to Florida Bay – as sluggish slow-flowing sheetflow through Shark River Slough.

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