Jun 14, 2013

Sheetflow for now, but for how long?

Summer and fall is sheetflow season,

But usually it takes until August to get into full gear.

The calendar chart above shows the historical pattern freshwater discharge under the Big Cypress Nat'l Preserve portion of the Tamiami Trail.  As you can see, this summer is already off to a fast start, i.e. flowing at peak level (as represented by black dots), which is relatively rare (but not unprecedented) according to the historical record.  As much as we like peak sheetflow, even better is being able to prolong it seasonally for as long as we can.  All of Big Cypress Nat'l Preserve's original boundary feeds water the downstream estuarine arm of Everglades Nat'l Park.  Sustaining sheetflow to those estuaries is a key driver of Everglades Restoration and a core reason why the preserve was established.

Even then there are years when it doesn't rise all the way up:

The drought year of 2007 was a perfect example of that.

This year sheetflow is racing fast out of the gate.

Last time we had this much flow under Tamiami Trail was June 2005 and before that the flood of record year 1995.  But peak flow conditions rarely sustain through the entire year and this year will probably be no different.  Thus the question is: how long will peak flow last and what steps can we take to prolong it, if not this year, in future years to come.

The downstream 10,000 Island estuaries depend on it.

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