Wednesday, November 19, 2014

From the annals of the Great Destroyers: our Drinking Water in Peril … The County Wants to SHRINK the Wellfield Protectection Zone. By Geniusofdespair and Gimleteye

If you read one post this year: Make it this one. Some at the County may tell you that the push to update the wellfield maps came from litigation by Ron Bergeron/Kendall Properties Inc.

210 days (outer circle) my ass. More like a few hours

There is never an end to the war on the environment in South Florida. It is a battle of attrition lightly reported in the mainstream press between miners, sugar billionaires, developers, their lobbyists and proxies in elected office against neighbors, civic activists, and environmentalists. Those with profit motives normally prevail for the standard reasons. Until now, protections for the well field in Miami Dade County have been sacrosanct. Why are they being battered down now?

Of course, the Miami Dade planners have a rationale: "we don't need as much land as we thought we did when we expected to use much more water." But this flies in the face of the history of Miami-Dade begging the state to give it permission to draw MORE water. (And no where, by the way, has the county mentioned the need to preserve more fresh water supply for FPL Turkey Point's massive expansion plans: on the order of 90 million gallons per day.)

How the county and state government conspired to substitute highly engineered, chemically treated and expensive water for taxpayers in a region that once afforded the cleanest, most abundant fresh water in the United States for free is a long, winding and mostly unwritten story. (You can pick up the threads in our archive.)

The claim of developers and rock miners on the region called the West Dade well field is one of the starkest examples how baselines of what the public deems acceptable comprise between development and environmental protection are constantly shifting despite the best science and evidence calling for strict and stringent protections for our water supply. For example, during the term of county mayor Carlos Alvarez in 2006, evidence from tests by the USGS (US Geological Service) that underground water moved much more rapidly from the Everglades to the well fields, through faults and openings in the Biscayne aquifer, caused  the rock miners to press their case to limit future financial exposure to water treatment costs by successfully ramming through the state legislature caps on their liability.

For those readers unfamiliar, the West Dade well field is best observed from an airplane window seat on the approach to Miami International Airport. The large green, variously colored squarish lakes are rock mines. The rock is ancient coral reef that is not only the bedrock of South Florida, but the substrate used for cement and pavement in its many forms.

This limestone is extraordinarily porous. It is like a sponge or sieve. The reason that water from the Everglades was once so pristine -- requiring no treatment at all -- is that the sawgrass meadows and limestone beneath acted as a perfect filter. The reason so many ancient, indigenous tribes settled at the mouths of Florida's rivers (Miami River) and bays is that the interface between fresh and salt water provided extraordinarily abundant wildlife and (then) a limitless source of food.

Today, the Everglades are the background for bitter conflict between billionaire sugar growers, their proxies and lobbyists, and environmentalists. Over decades, these acid relationships have been smoothed out by government interventions that sadly fall short, always, of what the environment and ecosystem needs.

Until now, the West Dade well field has been isolated from that conflict. Why? Because what protects the Everglades also protects drinking water serving over 2 million residents and visitors. But the pressure of rock miners, land speculators, and developers on the well field is relentless.

Some of the worst, most congested suburban sprawl in Miami-Dade county is pressing up against the open space called the well field protection zone; determined to be the area necessary to provide enough filtration so that the water in our well fields is relatively clean. And they -- the Great Destroyers -- want more.

It would take a much longer report to describe what the well field protection area is sized as it is, and how the science of water quality and wetlands has imposed limits that developers now want to knock apart. After successive political victories at the polls, insiders have apparently determined this is the time to assault the well field protection zone.

Below are comments about shrinking the well fields protection areas (shown above) made by a host of Environmental Groups in response to the initial wave of attack against legal protections that have been supported, for decades, by county planning staff and experts.  Also read our previous blog on this subject from Monday.

These comments were sent to the County Commission as this well field protection area shrinkage will likely be scheduled for the December 16th meeting of the Board of County Commissioners.

The county is suddenly arguing that a big area of protection is no longer necessary because Miami Dade Water and Sewer is drawing less than permitted water from the wells. A smaller area would reduce the limits on developers (who may be failing agreed upon stipulations  regarding the impacts of their developments on the operation of nearby water drainage canals operated by the state.) A smaller area would also allow rock mining and development to blossom even further.

There are very good reasons the well field protection area should not be changed, and some of these are highlighted by engineering and environmental appeals to the county commission and county planners.

(view in Scrib)

Scientist on the Environmental Review Committee for the County:

Below: Complaint from Kendall Properties Inc. -This is a complaint from Kendall Properties against Miami-Dade County.  Some at the County may tell you that the push to update the wellfield maps came from this litigation. Ron Bergeron is Kendall Properties Inc.. We have a whole file on him. Rock mining, Republican, pretender of Everglades protection, he wrestles alligators for fun and headlines and drives a huge black Hummer trimmed in gold. His fortune is based on exploiting the arbitrage at the edge of the Everglades: rock mining, land clearing, construction and development -- he is the most visible advocate for letting developers determine what is best for the Everglades.

It’s also important to note that the west wellfield protection area that would be eliminated is in the Bird Drive Basin where expansion of 836 outside of the UDB is proposed.

Read on scrib

Also read BENEATH THE PINK UNDERWEAR in Miami New Times:
But beneath the pink underwear lay another story, which though less sexy, is much more important. It involves a complicated test by WASD, the Department of Environmental Resources Management (DERM), and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to find out how quickly water moves through limestone near the Northwest Wellfield. The preliminary results of this test provoked nothing less than shock in the scientists who performed it. Their reactions had more to do with drinking water, taxes, and the multimillion-dollar limestone mining industry than with the color of folks' unmentionables.
On the morning of April 22, one day before people noticed their underwear was stained, USGS scientists drilled a test well about 100 meters from the Northwest Wellfield and injected what is indeed a harmless dye known as rhodamine into the limestone. Based on previous DERM water models for North Miami-Dade, they expected the dye would take two to three days to appear. The first traces showed up in about four hours.

Next installment.... Beating a dead horse.


Anonymous said...

Now we know what keeps two bloggers up till 3 AM.
Thank you for a comprehensive report on lives essential ingredient.

Anonymous said...

Whatever happened to Codina's Beacon Lakes and its impacts?

Geniusofdespair said...

We welcome any info on the stealth project...coming out of nowhere. Where was it in the Miami Herald? No where.

This is our drinking water folks.

Anonymous said...

Codina might be hehind this push. To bad there are no investigative reporters anymore.

Harry said...

David Chin's letter was the game changer for me.

Anonymous said...

100 Feet? Are they kidding? Really are they kidding?

Anonymous said...

Why are the professional planners in Miami Dade County OK with this? Has the Gimenez administration instructed them?

Anonymous said...

This is horrific. What is wrong with the people? Don't they care about clean water?

Water Goddess said...

The first time I saw Alligator Ron's pimped out hooker mobile I almost wet myself. I was sure I was on Biscayne Blvd. in the hooker district. I was close actually, standing in the parking lot of the South Florida Water Management District in Palm Beach County. The district can issue permits faster than most skilled call girl with fast working hands. So Ron's Hummer should always be sitting outside of SFWMD, DEP, Governors mansion,BOCC,etc. to remind us how little having fresh drinking water means to any of the hacks ever mentioned in this blog.People need to start screaming, these bastards do not care if Florida goes down if Florida has water. The Bergerons, FPL execs,Jeb and the endless polluting frauds need serious prison time ASAP...............

Alexandria said...

What is so sad. This is first grade science. The Bozos at every acronym SFWMD, DEP, & BOCC know water is finite, They also know water is connected to water is connected water. I do not know how they sleep at night knowing it will all be destroyed and they could have stopped it they could have said NO.

Anonymous said...

Mitch Berger: zombie Democrat.

be good to the planet said...

Water seem to go to the person(s) with longest straw.