Friday, April 20, 2007

Florida Drought 2007 by Geniusofdespair

Florida Drought April 04, 2007
by Storm Video grapher Jeff Gammons says:
“Ongoing severe drought in Florida continues to get worse, and my tour around Lake Okeechobee on Tuesday and the surrounding areas proves that it is much worse than I thought. ...The lake is in some trouble and this is really going to affect all of South Florida. The lake is the main water source for much of Southern Florida, including the millions that live between West Palm Beach and Miami. The lake is currently over five feet below normal, and becoming a mud mess.
... I have never seen Lake Okeechobee this low before. ...There are no signs of drought busting rains in sight.” Check out his video (Hit on link above).

Now this is why the development industry cares about this issue that Gammons described above:

This is from the DEP Website, from their Drought Action Plan (developers need the infrastructure called for in the last paragraph):

Connecting Water Supply and Growth
"In 2005, the Florida Legislature recognized that it was critical to strengthen the link between land use and water supply planning. Building upon the water management districts’ regional water supply plan efforts, each local government must now include, in its comprehensive plan’s potable water element, a minimum 10-year water supply facility work plan for building all public, private, and regional water supply facilities necessary to serve existing and new devel-opment within its jurisdiction. These water supply facility work plans must project future water supply demands, identify the water supply sources available to meet those demands and identify all water supply projects that need to be constructed. They will also include the schedules for permitting, constructing, and operating all needed public, private, and regional water supply facilities within the local government’s jurisdiction."

"The 10-year water supply facility work plans must be adopted by the local government into their comprehensive plans within 18 months following the approval of an update to an existing regional water supply plan. (However, local governments located within the Wekiva River Study Area were required to adopt their water supply facility work plan by December 1, 2006.)"

"The Department of Community Affairs held workshops during the fall of 2005 to discuss the new growth management legislation in each regional planning council area. The water management districts must provide technical and financial assistance to local governments and water suppliers to help them identify, plan, design, and build alternative water supply projects."

Drought translates into no growth.


Anonymous said...

Did you catch the article at the bottom about Florida needing a Hurricane to kill the drought? What Florida needs is a stop to all the uncontrolled growth.

Anonymous said...

Action now will reduce drought’s impact on Glades

The Miami Herald article, “Drought may force Glades action,” published on April 17, 2007, raises an excellent opportunity to examine ways to start minimizing the problems South Florida faces during the dry season, because droughts are not going to go away anytime soon.
On average, South Florida receives 60 inches of rainfall annually, yet it is not uncommon for the region to experience water shortages. Can you imagine how peculiar this statement must sound to water managers in Phoenix or Las Vegas, which receive on average of only 8 inches of water a year? But it is true.
The reason is that we really only have two seasons in Florida, a dry season and a wet season. During the wet season billions of gallons of water are rapidly dumped into the ocean to keep businesses, private property and agricultural areas from flooding. Then, in the dry season, we don’t have enough water. To compound the problem, more than half of all water use during the dry season is for watering lawns and landscapes.
The primary way to dump excess water is through canals. Unfortunately, during drought conditions water levels have to be maintained in these canals to prevent groundwater levels from getting too low, which would allow ocean saltwater to seep into our water wells and make them unusable. This is an extremely wasteful use of water resources, but necessary to protect freshwater.
Before Europeans made their imprint on South Florida, these problems did not exist, but the series of canals, levees, wells, and irrigation systems that were built into the landscape purely for humans now necessitate drastic measures to maintain our quality of life.
The South Florida Water Management District is now proposing to draw water from the Water Conservation Areas, which is Everglades’ habitat, to maintain water levels in the canals. This may be a necessary step to protect freshwater resources. However, these actions must go hand in hand with drastic water conservation measures as well. It is the right thing to do. Short-term the Water Management District must:
Ensure that water is not wasted and is used for the most important needs of people and nature by:
1. Implementing and enforcing the most restrictive water use rules that the SFWMD has at its disposal and demonstrating to the public that they are achieving success.
2. Limiting water use even more for lawns, golf courses and other large landscapes and pushing even harder for water users to replace plants and grasses that use lots of water with landscaping plants that are Florida Friendly.
3. Not issuing new water Consumptive Use Permits except to users who agree to use alternative water supplies such as recovered wastewater and storm water.
Long-term the SFWMD must:
1. Fully and rapidly implement the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.
2. Provide for additional water storage beyond that anticipated in the Everglades restoration plan to capture as much of the wet season water that is dumped into the ocean as possible.
3. Make water conservation measures permanent and enforce them.
Often it is the hardest times, such as this current drought, that provide the best opportunities for positive change. Water managers should use this opportunity to set in place durable protections for our water resources.

David Anderson
Executive Director
Audubon of Florida
444 Brickell Ave., 850
Miami, Fl 33131
(305) 371-6399

Anonymous said...

There is no way to conserve water when no matter what is said, there is no enforcement. The police have said that they have more important things to use their time and the various code enforcement officers are less than useless. Just watch as you friends and neighbors ignore the regulations and use all the water they want. Of course commercial interests never care, so golf courses will be watered, etc.

Anonymous said...

It's still all about sugar. If not for sugar, the Lake would still be high enough to serve South Florida. These people have run Florida long enough, imposing their own conditions on how to treat rainfall. Enough is enough!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Jamie :-)

Welcome to the board!

Geniusofdespair said...

Where did all these environmentalists come from -- with real names --

I thought only lobbyists read this blog.

Anonymous said...

You think we got it bad check out this from another member of the coalition of the willing, the end of their entire agricultural economy: From the Independent newspaper in the UK, worth reading at length:

Australia's epic drought: The situation is grim
By Kathy Marks in Sydney
Published: 20 April 2007
Australia has warned that it will have to switch off the water supply to the continent's food bowl unless heavy rains break an epic drought - heralding what could be the first climate change-driven disaster to strike a developed nation.

The Murray-Darling basin in south-eastern Australia yields 40 per cent of the country's agricultural produce. But the two rivers that feed the region are so pitifully low that there will soon be only enough water for drinking supplies. Australia is in the grip of its worst drought on record, the victim of changing weather patterns attributed to global warming and a government that is only just starting to wake up to the severity of the position.

The Prime Minister, John Howard, a hardened climate-change sceptic, delivered dire tidings to the nation's farmers yesterday. Unless there is significant rainfall in the next six to eight weeks, irrigation will be banned in the principal agricultural area. Crops such as rice, cotton and wine grapes will fail, citrus, olive and almond trees will die, along with livestock.

A ban on irrigation, which would remain in place until May next year, spells possible ruin for thousands of farmers, already debt-laden and in despair after six straight years of drought.

Lovers of the Australian landscape often cite the poet Dorothea Mackellar who in 1904 penned the classic lines: "I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains." But the land that was Mackellar's muse is now cracked and parched, and its mighty rivers have shrivelled to sluggish brown streams. With paddocks reduced to dust bowls, graziers have been forced to sell off sheep and cows at rock-bottom prices or buy in feed at great expense. Some have already given up, abandoning pastoral properties that have been in their families for generations. The rural suicide rate has soared.

Mr Howard acknowledged that the measures are drastic. He said the prolonged dry spell was "unprecedentedly dangerous" for farmers, and for the economy as a whole. Releasing a new report on the state of the Murray and Darling, Mr Howard said: "It is a grim situation, and there is no point in pretending to Australia otherwise. We must all hope and pray there is rain."

But prayer may not suffice, and many people are asking why crippling water shortages in the world's driest inhabited continent are only now being addressed with any sense of urgency.

The causes of the current drought, which began in 2002 but has been felt most acutely over the past six months, are complex. But few scientists dispute the part played by climate change, which is making Australia hotter and drier.

Environmentalists point to the increasing frequency and severity of drought-causing El Niño weather patterns, blamed on global warming. They also note Australia's role in poisoning the Earth's atmosphere. Australians are among the world's biggest per-capita energy consumers, and among the top producers of carbon dioxide emissions. Despite that, the country is one of only two industrialised nations - the United States being the other - that have refused to ratify the 1997 Kyoto protocol. The governments argue that to do so would harm their economies.

Until a few months ago, Mr Howard and his ministers pooh-poohed the climate-change doomsayers. The Prime Minister refused to meet Al Gore when he visited Australia to promote his documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. He was lukewarm about the landmark report by the British economist Sir Nicholas Stern, which warned that large swaths of Australia's farming land would become unproductive if global temperatures rose by an average of four degrees.

Faced with criticism from even conservative sections of the media, Mr Howard realised that he had misread the public mood - grave faux pas in an election year. Last month's report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted more frequent and intense bushfires, tropical cyclones, and catastrophic damage to the Great Barrier Reef. The report also said there would be up to 20 per cent more droughts by 2030. And it said the annual flow in the Murray-Darling basin was likely to fall by 10-25 per cent by 2050. The basin, the size of France and Spain combined, provides 85 per cent of the water used nationally for irrigation.

While the government is determined to protect Australia's coal industry, the drought is expected to shave 1 per cent off annual growth this year. The farming sector of a country that once "rode the sheep's back" to prosperity is in desperate straits. With dams and reservoirs drying up, many cities and towns have been forced to introduce severe water restrictions.

Mr Howard has softened his rhetoric of late, and says that he now broadly accepts the science behind climate change. He has tried to regain the political initiative, announcing measures including a plan to take over regulatory control of the Murray-Darling river system from state governments.

He has declared nuclear power the way forward, and is even considering the merits of joining an international scheme to "trade" carbon dioxide emissions - an idea he opposed in the past.

Mr Howard's conservative coalition will face an opposition Labour Party revitalised by a popular new leader, Kevin Rudd, and offering a climate change policy that appears to be more credible than his. Ben Fargher, the head of the National Farmers' Federation, said that if fruit and olive trees died, that could mean "five to six years of lost production". Food producers also warned of major food price rises.

Mr Howard acknowledged that an irrigation ban would have a "potentially devastating" impact. But "this is very much in the lap of the gods", he said.

How UN warned Australia and New Zealand

Excerpts from UN's IPCC report on the threat of global warming to Australia and New Zealand:

"As a result of reduced precipitation and increased evaporation, water security problems are projected to intensify by 2030 in south and east Australia and, in New Zealand, in Northland and eastern regions."

* "Significant loss of biodiversity is projected to occur by 2020 in some ecologically rich sites, including the Great Barrier Reef and Queensland's tropics. Other sites at risk include the Kakadu wetlands ... and the alpine areas of both countries."

* "Ongoing coastal development and population growth in areas such as Cairns and south-east Queensland (Australia) and Northland to Bay of Plenty (New Zealand) are projected to exacerbate risks from sea-level rise and increases in the severity and frequency of storms and coastal flooding by 2050."

* "Production from agriculture and forestry by 2030 is projected to decline over much of southern and eastern Australia, and over parts of eastern New Zealand, due to increases in droughts and fires."

* "The region has substantial adaptive capacity due to well-developed economies and scientific and technical capabilities, but there are considerable constraints to implementation ... Natural systems have limited adaptive capacity."

Anonymous said...

The Gore presentation notes how Florida is on the same lattitude as sub-Saharan Africa, and that what makes us different is the interaction of the jet stream with the Gulfstream.

This winter, weather over the Western part of the United States was highly unusual and significantly drier than usual for much of the Rockies. In the East winter arrived exceptionally late, capped by the recent wild April nor'easter.

Who knows whether the drought we are in, now, is just an historic drought or a catastrophic drought: that's the problem with global warming-- once the worst impacts are on us, and we can all hold hands and finally agree that something has to be "done" to cut C02 emissions and other global warming gases, it will be too late.

We need to think hard, about what is happening in Australia right now... if we don't have a wet hurricane season, a year from now we could be singing the same tune, and just think how that will complicated the real estate market.

Anonymous said...

Letters from Australia illustrate how much they like our own radical conservative local and federal governments are in denial about the effects of global warming. More from the Independent UK: (Note Brisbane has a subtropical climate very similar to Miami that includes an overheated real estate market.)

Letters: Drought in Australia
Thinking the unthinkable in drought-stricken Australia
Published: 24 April 2007
Sir: Current water shortages in Australia are affecting many facets of ordinary people's lives ("A global warning from the dust bowl of Australia", 20 April). My wife and I emigrated from England to Brisbane in August 2003. We bought a large detached house on a block of land a third of an acre in size - not unusual in the neighbourhood. The lawns were soft and emerald green, as well they would be given the electronic irrigation system which pumped water on to them while we slept. And we were not alone. The suburb was a sea of green. People were free to water when and as much as they liked.

The once-green lawns are now brown, and the soil baked as hard as concrete. Our neighbours' lawn has a large crack in it, big enough they tell me for their children's feet to fit into. Recently introduced water restrictions in Queensland have all but banned outdoor water use and the focus has now shifted to indoor use. We are being encouraged to use no more than 140 litres of water per person, per day. Households using more than 800 litres per day will be required to explain their usage.

I was concerned to see from a recent rates notice that my wife and I were using too much water. In order to comply with the target we have radically altered our way of life. We are still using approximately 194 litres of water each per day. This, despite taking four-minute showers (the bath is but a dusty relic of our former lives), having the taps on low, turning them off while we wash, not using the dishwasher, not watering the garden etc etc. Next month a plumber is coming to fit more efficient shower heads. I doubt there is much more we can do, but I now feel guilty about using any water at all.

Plans are in place to try to safeguard the water supply - including building an expensive desalination plant - but they may not be implemented in time. The unthinkable may happen - we will run out of water altogether. That prospect is rarely discussed publicly. I wonder whether it is because people cannot face up to that happening.