The Amy H Remley Foundation  

We can avoid plight of the Everglades

The following article appeared in the Citrus County Chronicle,
by Sam Lyons, Director of the Amy H Remley Foundation.

September 9, 2007

In my capacity as a member on the Coastal Rivers Basin Board, the Amy H Remley Foundation, and the Kings Bay Association, I often find myself delving into various articles and books pertaining to Florida's water resources. Recently, I finished reading, "The Swamp, the Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise" . This book is not only an informative history of the Everglades, but also an accounting of man's near destruction of this unique eco-system due to ignorance and greed. It is a book everyone should read.

Subsequent to the Civil War, Florida's Trustees of the Internal Improvement Fund, in an attempt to bolster the economy, put millions of acres of swamp land and “over-flowed” land up for grabs. Draining these wetlands was the only obstacle standing in the way of speculators developing millions of acres for agriculture and housing. No one seemed to foresee that changing the topography, hydrology and chemistry of the land would lead to devastating consequences. For nearly 100 years, various attempts were made to ditch and drain the Everglades, but it was not until the Corps of Engineers took on the challenge in the mid twentieth century that real progress was made. That “progress” lead to destroyed wetlands, polluted water, dried up springs, salt water intrusion and eradication of wildlife. A devastating environmental price was paid to open up south Florida to rampant development. No doubt, “taming” the Everglades will be remembered as one of man's most dramatic alterations of an ecosystem. The natural water regime of the Everglades is so disrupted that it is questionable whether the 12 billion dollar restoration attempt (The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan) will be successful. And, to add insult to injury, the Plan is more about creating sufficient water supply for south Florida's ever burgeoning population than the restoration of the Everglades.

The parallels between what has happened to the Everglades and what is happening to Citrus County are strikingly similar. For example, the natural “sheet flow” of water in the Tsala Apopka Lake Chain has been disrupted by dikes, ditches and water control structures. The lake system, no longer able to adequately flush itself, suffers from accumulation of muck, tussocks, loss of native submerged aquatic vegetation and loss of fish habitat. The corresponding loss of wetlands throughout the County has lead to the loss of natural flood control, less water storage, less water filtration and loss of wildlife habitat. With no storage and filtration and ever increasing stromwater runoff, pollutants contaminate our surface and ground water. Besides threatening our drinking water, water that is heavily laden with nitrates and phosphorus eventually works its way to our coastal estuaries and sea grass beds compromising their biological productivity. As phosphorus concentrations increase, the potential for destructive “red-tide” algae blooms similar to those in Florida Bay increases. Our lyngbya infested rivers (a manifestation of an imbalance in nature) suffer from reduced water flow. Spring flows have dropped dramatically due to sedimentation, increased ground water withdrawals, and drought. Ironically, many scientists theorize that the drought has been exacerbated by too many roof tops and too much asphalt replacing forested land, thereby, reducing transpiration.

The common denominator responsible for the degradation of our water resources, whether in the Everglades or Citrus County, is the cumulative impacts of unabated growth.

Although I have painted a somewhat somber picture, Citrus County is still in a position to avoid the plight of the Everglades. We are fortunate to have many grassroots organizations in Citrus County that dedicate themselves to the protection and restoration of our natural resources. We should, wholeheartedly, support these organizations as well as make personal commitments to be conservationists and stewards of our water resources.

Furthermore, we must insist that government protect sensitive lands, water quality, and recognize the need for controlled sustainable growth.

To quote Pogo, “we have met the enemy, and he is us.” Let's not let apathy allow “paradise” to slip away from Citrus County.

News and Views
News Items

November 30, 2013
On environment, shortsightedness costs Florida big.
Scott Maxwell, Taking Names.
read more

October 9, 2013
Fuel Cell Today analysis.
The Fuel Cell Industry Review 2013.
read more

September 25, 2013
Fuel Cell Today analysis.
The Potential for Fuel Cell Prime Power in Japan.
read more

August 1, 2013
Duke Energy to cancel proposed Levy County nuclear plant.
read more

May 22, 2013
Fuel Cell Today analysis.
Electrolysers for Renewable Energy Efficiency.
read more

March 13, 2013
Beyond Electricity: Using Renewables Effectively.
read more

September 24, 2012
Sewer Systems Legal Filing.
read more

February 1, 2012
Fuel Cell Today update.
read more

January 13, 2012
Sewer Agenda.
read more

December 23, 2011
Scientist: Water account overdrawn.
read more

Novemver 14, 2011
Submission to the Citrus County Commissioner, 14 November, 2011.
read more