Tuesday, April 01, 2014

A New Word For You: Subsidence. By Geniusofdespair

My Lame Explanation (could be loaded with mistakes): In other words, unless covered in water, the rich black soil in the Everglades evaporates, they call this subsidence of the soil. That is why draining the agricultural area for sugar growth is damaging but that is just what they did. Then they had to use lake O water to water their crops. And the water they drain off  back into Lake O is filled with bad nutrients for the Everglades and they shoot up the area with fertilizers and the sugar itself has bad stuff as runoff. The bad water produces cattails and kills off the natural sawgrass among other things. So water managers have been draining the sugar land of bad water (the sugar barons created) so the sugar barons can farm and so they, the sugar barons, can make more bucks. Other areas get the polluted water like the St. Lucie estuary on the East Coast and they end up with toxic algae that makes people sick and fish deformed. Except now, a landmark case in New York may stop this. Thank you David Guest. And thank you Friends of the Everglades, always a part of Everglades dirty water litigation.


Instead of just making the farmers reduce nutrient levels as Florida Courts have been doing, the government won't let them pump the dirty water at all. READ THE DAMN ARTICLE here is an excerpt:
 A major decision in federal court today MARCH 28TH will put an end to government-sanctioned pollution that’s been fouling Lake Okeechobee for more than three decades.
The case, first filed in 2002 by Earthjustice, challenged the practice of  “backpumping.” For years, South Florida sugar and vegetable growers have used the public’s waters, pumped out of giant Lake Okeechobee, to irrigate their fields. They wash the water over their industrial-sized crops, where it is contaminated with fertilizers and other pollutants. Then, they get taxpayers in the South Florida Water Management District to pay to pump the contaminated water back into Lake Okeechobee, where it pollutes public drinking water supplies. Lake Okeechobee provides drinking water for West Palm Beach, Fort Myers, and the entire Lower East Coast metropolitan area. 
Earthjustice contended that the South Florida Water Management District was violating the Clean Water Act by allowing the agricultural companies to send fertilizer-laden water into public water supplies, instead of cleaning it up first. U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Karas in the Southern District of New York March 28th that the water transfer practice does, indeed, violate the Clean Water Act.
Scientific explanation of subsidence:
The organic soils (Histosols) of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) formed when organic matter (OM) production exceeded OM decomposition because flooded conditions limited the oxygen needed by aerobic soil organisms which convert the OM to carbon dioxide and water. Since the onset of extensive drainage in the EAA, OM decomposition has been exceeding production, resulting in loss of soil and a lowering of the surface elevations (subsidence). Prior to Everglades drainage, organic soil subsidence was well known in other locations, and it has been carefully documented in the EAA for nearly a century. In terms of agricultural production, it is a particular problem because most of the Histosols in the EAA are underlain by dense limestone rock. In 1951, following an extensive study of soil depths and subsidence rates, it was predicted that agricultural production would largely end by 2000 because of subsidence.


Anonymous said...

Good explanation. And for goodness sake - clearly Big Sugar should clean up their act. We know that ingesting sugar is bad for us -- that growing it here is killing the ecosystem - they should just stop it already!!

Ross Hancock said...

I make it a point not to call them sugar "farms," but rather sugar "factories." Sugar production is a chemically intensive industrial process that creates a refined raw material. Nothing at all like normal agriculture that grows our food. More like strip mining than farming.

Anonymous said...

and the practical result of this new ruling will be......?

Anonymous said...

One correction: poor choice of wording to say the soils "evaporated." Evaporation is the process of liquid converting to a gaseous form. As explained later in the post, subsidence of the Everglades soils is a process of bacterial degradation and oxidation, causing the organic portion of the soil mass to be removed and converted to energy, thus reducing the soil volume. The organic matter could not be adequately replaced once the Lake was prevented from flowing southward and stopped depositing nutrient rich soils in the area. The SFWMD has photos of locations in the EAA where the soil subsidence is greater than six feet.

Geniusofdespair said...

Thank you for the correction

Anonymous said...

No problem GoD. Great post. Sorry if my correction came off as glib or condescending. Not my intent.

Geniusofdespair said...

I am glad for The correction. I was trying to put it into plain language but I didn't want to put it into wrong language.