December 20, 2013


What is this acronym – or abbreviation or – nonsense ? 
Ok, here is the story –
This abbreviation appears in practically all the reports addressing the Everglades and Florida waters in general. It stands for  Total Maximum Daily Loading and what it refers to is "a value of the maximum amount of a pollutant that a water body can receive while still meeting water quality standards" (US Clean Water Act). It could be the amount of Phosphorus (or Nitrogen) nutrient dissolved in flowing water which is bringing it (‘loading’ it) into a receiving water body.
And from the sound and sense of it, you would say “per day”, right ?
Wow – gotcha ! Not exactly !
You see, it is really  absolutely routinely expressed as the amount of the named pollutant/nutrient (say in metric tons) – but per YEAR !
It appears in the same sentence whereby, without blinking an eye, even experts (and particularly them), for instance say : 
“Lake Okeechobee TMDL of 105 mt/year …”
There is an obvious discrepancy there –
so, is it supposed to be per DAY or per YEAR ???
A conspiracy theory would tell us that this confusion is injected into all the reports and countless presentations and discussions on purpose – for sure to confuse the foreign enemy’s spies !
But actually, it is probably to confuse YOU – the public - and everybody. 
And it keeps being propagated and propagated (and propagated) - -
TMDL in tons per year.
TMDL – and per year -
WHY that ???   It beats me –
How could we possibly have all the “things Everglades” right if we don’t even know what we are talking about ?
Will somebody please stand up and set things straight ?
One thing is for sure - the TMDL should NOT be exceeded !
Not like the situation has been for long with Lake Okeechobee where the TMDL is set at 105 mt/y.
And what is flowing into our "liquid heart of Florida" ? 
Routinely now 400-500 mt/year !

And this is how Lake Okeechobee continues to exist as the toilet of Florida -
The RED LINE in the diagram below is the TMDL where we should be - but it has been notoriously and continuously exceeded by far - no hope for Lake Okeechobee :


November 18, 2013


Look at the rush-hour traffic - those crowds in Bangladesh don't even realize that this is NOT a normal way of life.
This can never happen to us ? That's exactly what they thought.
Just give it some decades - it is creeping slowly - but surely.
What will come first to Florida -
*1) The sea-level rise type of boat travel ? Water, water everywhere -
*2) Or the left-over dry-land mass transit type of travel ?
Just take your pick and look at this short documentary video - CLICK pictures below for it.
Over-population ? Naaaah, just a usual rush-hour traffic:



November 15, 2013


Florida fresh-water situation was being addressed in the recent article
"Don’t let drought catch Florida by surprise” by Melissa Meeker, the former Executive Director of the SFWMD. A good constructive rumination. However, there is a shortcoming of it being somewhat narrow-minded in a sense that she is not considering / addressing / mentioning at all:

(1) SUSTAINABILITY – While technological advances are making the RO membrane processes somewhat cheaper, desalination technologies are invariably extremely ENERGY intensive.  Their use makes us MORE DEPENDENT on conventional (oil) and controversial (nuclear ?) energy production.  Reverse osmosis membranes are also hydrocarbon based.  Moreover, the newer technologies (RO desalination, ASR, reuse) are still facing some challenges (brine disposal, arsenic contamination and water recovery, public acceptance, mismatch between supply and demand, etc.) when compared to using groundwater.  Check the costs below.  Like a proponent of seawater desal that she appears to be, Ms Meeker seems to somewhat suppresses the outstanding controversies.
While the word “diversification” is being used, let’s make that “sustainable diversification” !

(2)  THE STATE IS not CONSERVING WATER – while public is exhorted to CONSERVE  (SFWMD, FDEP, EPA campaigns).  Water conservation is an extremely important factor. 

How to explain to the public that during a wet year like 2013, instead of storing every drop of water, billions of gallons of freshwater are not only dumped to the estuaries but also causing immeasurable damages there.
What a double-whammy waste of our precious freshwater resource !

CLIMATE CHANGE and SEA-LEVELRISE – real longer-term danger of inundation does loom on the horizon. While it is not even mentioned, it is already putting an extra pressure on FL fresh water supplies through (underground) penetration of salt water that poisons FL wells supplying the most dense populations of the East and West coasts.

(4) EVERGLADES RESTORATION – results in both natural aquifer recharging and water STORAGE. It is in progress and should be first on the list of remedial alternatives as it will 
a) decrease the need for expensive water desalination, 
b) recharge our aquifers during the wet years, 
c) stop damaging freshwater dumping into the estuaries,

Liven up the tourism and economy in general through available clean water and clean oceans (a $4 return on each $1 so invested).

Obviously, this alternative would not provide freshwater for free.  The costs involved are significant – but it has to be done if Florida is to remain habitable for the population that already arrived and settled in that requires fresh water to survive as a civilization.  
The alternative is to evacuate 8.5 million people of South Florida.

JOB LOSSES due to water shortages are mentioned. What needs to be emphasized is the serious damage due to water shortages and pollution which are deadly destructive to the very heart of the Florida main economic engine – tourism.
The key two sectors with the highest use of our freshwater are public and agriculture.  Floridians used an estimated 6.8 billion gallons per day of freshwater in 2005 and the forecast water demand is around 8.7 billion gallons per day in 2025, mainly subdivided between agriculture (around 2.5 BGD) and public water supply (around 3BGD).  As the industrial/commercial sectors are not high water users, water related job losses in that direction would not be as dramatic compared to people leaving the state, or not visiting it, because of drastic water shortages and water/ocean contamination.

 There is no “free fresh-water” – we end up paying for it one way or another. 
As usual, not one, not two - but ALL factors contributing to the security of our fresh-water supply have to be considered, exploited and introduced to remedy the situation:

GW =Ground Water       SW = Surface Water
RW = Reused Water       WW= Waste Water
 These are, water -
RE-USE, and

While the engineering and design of well chosen options should be bold and forward-looking, the economics of these alternatives has to be seriously worked out to provide for a solid decision making basis.  SUSTAINABILITY in particular and CLIMATE CHANGE factors have to be also considered as part of the multifactorial, multifaceted and balanced action toward the optimal solution that we could afford as we must act. 
There is no life and no economy without fresh water.

November 1, 2013


The Everglades ecosystem encompasses a system of diverse wetland landscapes that are hydrologically and ecologically connected across more than 200 miles from north to south and across 18,000 square miles of southern Florida. Now, what next for the Everglades restoration ?
The governments remind us that a number of restoration projects have been accomplished or are in different stages of progress (read the Fact Sheets). While there is more improvement studied and on drawing boards, the projects are looking for the essential funding. Yes, it all costs money and different stake-holders are outdoing each other – standing “for” as well as “against”. As customary, lobbying is in overdrive.
Given both the cloudy current economic situation and with the current Florida legislators not very environmentally inclined, perhaps it is time to regroup and reflect – what should be the next priorities and steps toward effective Everglades restoration that, as almost everybody in general agrees upon, is needed ?
Let’s take a summarizing and appropriately far-looking and fundamental overview. An Everglades restoration reminder and a wish-list, if you will. Proceeding from North to South, as the Everglades waters (used to) flow, let’s summarize the main tasks as experts tend to see them:

(1) Northern LO Watershed - focus mainly on pollution preventative measures:
Watersheds of LO are mainly
agricultural and cattle grazing lands
Introduce and enforce strict measures in the form of effective farm BMPs with teeth.
Introduce and promote the nutrient reduction credit trading.
Regulate and restrict the uncontrolled urban sprawl and excessive development.
Enforce effective urban sewage treatment, minimizing the nutrient discharges.

(2) Lake Okeechobee – the liquid heart of Florida is seriously impaired and cleaning up its watershed (above) will certainly help. However, there are tons of “legacy phosphorus” in its mud deposits that should be gradually “removed”. At present, the question of devising the best way of doing so remains outstanding.
Lake Okeechobee is the largest Florida freshwater reservoir. Its primary function could be seen as such, despite the Lake’s ecological function that might have to be only considered as secondary.  Correspondingly, as the crucial flood prevention measure –
the overhaul and reinforcements of Hoover Dike around the Lake is mandatory.
Florida unusual and extreme seasonal rain variations call for both reliable flood protection and extraordinary water storage capacity.
● Eco-regulation of optimal Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers water releases.

(3) EAA – There are 3 major problems there caused by intensive agricultural activities:
(a) soil exhaustion that is compensated for by current excessive use of fertilizers;
(b) runoff of major portion of fertilizers applied that pollutes the downstream waters and overloads the existing STAs;
(c) soil oxidation and subsidence to the underlying rock in large areas (more than 3 feet subsidence).
Correspondingly, multi-prong actions are required to remedy the situation:
Introduce and enforce strict measures in the form of effective farm BMPs with teeth.
Enforce the Florida Constitution amendment that allows for the “polluters pay” mode of clean-up
Consolidate land holdings and allocation (“land swap”) for enlargement of existing STAs (with reservoirs – FEBs) and/or new FEB-STA construction.
Restore and replenish the subsided soil, (using LO muds ?) increasing its levels.

Provide for clean water sheet-flow south towards the ENP and Florida Bay.
Extend the Tamiami Trail elevated bridging.
Control water seepage in the easterly areas of South Florida.
Take appropriate steps to minimize the salt water underground advance/penetration.

Enough ? Let’s get down to work -


September 9, 2013

LAKE "O" Water Releases :

Self explanatory - what a harmful waste of precious fresh water !

September 3, 2013


So we have seen the Florida Senate Select Committee on the Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee Basin (IRLLOB) in action.  The keeners could follow the show for a whole day – in person or on live video.  The Committee was formed as a response to howling residents of mainly around the Florida east coast Indian River Lagoon that is being inundated by discharges from Lake Okeechobee. Billions of gallons of polluted and tea-colored water creating havoc along the St. Lucie River and killing the Lagoon where those quantities of fresh water just should not be.  They support toxic algal blooms and kill the salinity-sensitive sea life.  While the east coast gets only one quarter of LO water releases, three quarters are streaming down the Caloosahatchee to the west.  We have read and heard all about the ensuing troubles -
East coast lagoons are
overpowered by toxic algae

But that water just has to go somewhere since Lake Okeechobee cannot hold all that falls from the sky during the famous Floridian wet summer. It was particularly watery this year.  Protective Hover Dike around Lake Okeechobee  is unreliable to the point of potentially giving way as the LO water level rises. That would be a major disaster.  What to do ?
Chairing Florida Senator Joe Negron was relentlessly and pragmatically pushing for an immediate fix for the problem. Imagine, as if there could be such a thing after almost a century of hard and diligent work on having the center of Florida drained and mainly taken over by the agriculture and exploding population.
Now – stop the water releases – reverse time – and pronto !
There are some remediation steps that could be taken relatively quickly. They may help some but they do not solve the current problems. Undoing our fathers and grandfathers mistakes - those solutions, involving diverting truly huge quantities of water, are time consuming and expensive. Contemporary science knowledge is telling us what is necessary.  We just have to be bold enough – and do it.  Of course that there will be a bottom line with a dollar sign on it.  We, or some segments of Florida population, benefitted for long enough – and now is the time to pay the piper. And as the issue demonstrates, it is urgent.
Good senator Negron’s Committee heard the solutions – some quick, some slow – all relatively ‘expensive’.  It really takes smarts and some boldness and imagination to make sense out of it all. Amidst shouts of “move it southmove it south !” (meaning water from LO), the senator asked a good question –
What are the barriers for water flowing south ?
Tamiami Trail bridge
under construction
Are they physical and/or legal ??  Actually, there are both.  For water quantity, the downstream ‘plug’ has to be removed first for water to eventually flow south. This represents elevating section(s) of the Tamiami Trail ‘dam’ and putting it on bridges. That construction is moving ahead. However , LO water would still not be allowed to flow south – it is not clean enough ! 

In practical terms, that represents a legal hurdle – maximum 10 ppb of phosphorus has been agreed upon by a Consent Decree for water quality. The Everglades National Park (federal) should  not be fed “dirty water”. This is a serious quality matter and a big legal mine-field.  Water quality is judged by a complicated procedure based on a number of “exceedences” in the predetermined amount of phosphorus to enter.  That is determined by a complex formula specified in Appendix “A” of the Everglades Settlement Agreement.
Experts are now hard at work trying to determine what would be the effect of moving LO (and other) water down south. It is about the effect on the frequency and size of phosphorus “exceedencies”.  This was something the IRLLOB could not quite discern in the discussion – it could be called the “legal plug”. Its removal will require cleansing the water before it is allowed to flow south – meaning new land for construction and operation of reservoirs and STAs. Necessary, but an expensive and definitely not a short-term proposition !
One thing is for sure – the huge quantities of water to be handled (and other practical factors) render ideas of water storage on land (water farming) into the category of “band-aids”.
In terms of expedient (partial) solutions for the meantime, the senator would have to be very bold to consider some unconventional solutions for the grave situation.
Among those in the feedback provided to  the IRLLOB were:
● First of all - stop “studying”, encourage and expedite “doing” – and stay with it.
Declare the State of Emergency to allow for special procedures and funding.
● Use the “Eminent Domain” approach to obtain the necessary land faster and at reasonable price.
Dredge new inlets into the Indian River Lagoon to allow for access of more salt water.
Consider pipelines and dispersal systems for off-shore sea discharge of the LO water.
● Raise water levels in the EAA for extra water storage.
Enforce BMPs for LO watersheds with a strict control of phosphorus applications.
Broaden septic tank rules to prevent leakage into ground water.
There are plans, designs and specific projects, vetted and well discussed – such as CEPP, CERP, LORP, etc.etc.  Expedite them and secure adequate funding.
Enough ?
As usual, not just one of these –ALL these factors mentioned above should be worked together.
And all this considering the East as well as the West coast.
Go ahead – be bold – at least as much as Governor Broward was when he started all this mess – a 100 years ago.  But we don’t have all this time to doodle around – the rains, toxic algal blooms, the hurricanes are coming next year again. And every year !

July 5, 2013

One Way to Get Involved

Contributed by Joe WHYTE
Have you ever visited the Everglades ?
This vast area in southern Florida, covered largely in sawgrass, is home to awesome wildlife and delicate and endangered
ecosystems. For many decades, this wonderful area has been threatened by, agriculture and land development, even oil drilling. Recently, more people have come to believe that the Everglades needs to be restored and receive a greater degree of protection. If you feel this way, you may wonder how you can get involved.
The key to environmental awareness and protection is education. Teachers, especially in the natural sciences, are on the front lines of providing the knowledge and appreciation of the environment that encourage communities to protect special areas like the Everglades.
An appreciation of the Everglades begins with an understanding of its unique role in Florida. This special area contains sawgrass marshes, hardwood hammocks, cypress swamps and stands of mangroves where fresh water meets the sea. Each of these ecosystems is home to amazing wildlife, from menacing alligators to elegant great egrets. However, it is not only the Everglades wildlife – it is its key role in supplying almost half of Florida’s fresh water through feeding the porous aquifers underneath it. An understanding of the Everglades comes through basic knowledge of geology, agriculture, meteorology, hydrology, environmental restoration – and understanding how the governments work and finance our well being.
In a teaching training you can acquire the background for further exploring these topics and many others as well. 


In the 1970s and 1980s, the environmental movement brought pressure on state and federal lawmakers to begin protecting and preserving the Everglades. Although a part of the Everglades was dedicated as a National Park in 1934, this offered protection to only the southern section of this ecosystem. It became clear that more needed to be done, not only to protect all of the Everglades, but also to restore some of the sections that had been drained for agriculture or dammed for water control or diversion. The Everglades Forever Act was passed in 1994 to mandate cleanup of the chemical-laden runoff that was the product of agricultural activity in those areas that had been drained for crops. Everglades restoration was promoted in 2000 with a law to remove some of the levees and dams dating from the 1940s and 1950s. The purpose of this legislation was to return to a more natural and unimpeded flow of water through the area, freshwater that also feeds our wells.
Understanding of and being an advocate for the Everglades and other environmentally sensitive areas requires good skills in oral and written communication. An online teaching degree provides those skills, along with the ability to present facts in a clear, concise way. As an environmental advocate, you might be asked to write a letter to the editor, send an email to your representative in Congress or the state legislature, prepare an informational brochure or speak at a local meeting of concerned citizens.
Did You Know ?
The Everglades are often described as having only two seasons- the wet and the dry. Most hot summer days are punctuated by quenching afternoon thunderstorms that bring life-giving water to the park.

Even if you have never visited the Everglades, knowing that it has been designated as one of only 3 wetland areas of global importance indicates the need to be concerned about its protection and preservation. Nowadays, you can take an advantage of earning a teaching degree online, without the sacrifice of your regular salary and time off.  Earning an online teaching degree can be the first step to becoming an advocate for the Everglades and other threatened areas of the world. You will have an understanding of and the ability to speak and write well about the causes that concern you and, above all, you will be educating others to act on behalf of the environment, now and in the future.

The author volunteered this contribution. He has been writing on education resources, digital marketing and business for over 10 years.  He has helped hundreds of businesses generate more revenue and more profitability through his consulting.

April 5, 2013

Sorry, Earth

Author: David SUZUKI
Canadian environmentalist and broadcaster
(published in the Huffington Post on Jan. 2, 2012)

In 1988, hundreds of scientists and policy-makers met in Toronto for a major international conference on climate change. They were sufficiently alarmed by the accumulated evidence for human-caused global warming that they issued a release stating, "Humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment whose ultimate consequences could be second only to a global nuclear war."
They urged world leaders to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent by 2005. Had we heeded that warning and embarked on a campaign to meet the target, Canadians would now be healthier (because of reduced air pollution), have greater reserves of energy and more jobs. We'd also be a world leader in renewable energy and could have saved tens of billions of dollars.
The year was significant for environmentalists. In 1988, George H.W. Bush ran for the highest office in the U.S. and promised to be an "environmental president". He didn't have a green bone in his body, but public pressure compelled him to make a commitment he ultimately didn't keep. That year, Margaret Thatcher was filmed picking up litter. She turned to the camera and said, "I'm a greenie, too."
Canada's Prime Minister Brian Mulroney was also re-elected in 1988. He appointed a bright new political star, Lucien Bouchard, as environment minister. I asked Bouchard during an interview what he considered to be our most important environmental issue. "Global warming," he responded. I continued: "How serious is it?" His answer: "It threatens the survival of our species. We have to act now."
In 1988, the environment was a top public concern, scientists spoke out and politicians said the right things. Global warming was a pressing and present issue. Now, 25 years later, carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise, and we're already seeing the consequences -- more extreme weather events, melting glaciers and Arctic ice, rising sea levels, reduced water flows in rivers and climate-related illness and death, among others. It's driven in part by rapid economic growth in countries like China, India and Brazil. At the same time, most industrialized nations, whose use of fossil fuels created the problem of excess greenhouse gases, have done little to reduce emissions.
Humans are distinguished from other species by a massive brain that enables us to imagine a future and influence it by what we do in the present. By using experience, knowledge and insight, our ancestors recognized they could anticipate dangers and opportunities and take steps to exploit advantages and avoid hazards. Scientists and supercomputers have amplified our ability to look ahead. For decades, experts have warned us that human numbers, technology, hyper-consumption and a global economy are altering the chemical, geological and biological properties of the biosphere.
In 1992, more than 1,700 eminent scientists, including 104 Nobel prizewinners, signed the "World Scientists' Warning to Humanity", which included this urgent warning: "No more than one or a few decades remain before the chance to avert the threats we now confront will be lost and the prospects for humanity immeasurably diminished."
The document concluded that environmentally damaging activity must be brought under control and the integrity of Earth's ecosystems protected, critical resources managed more effectively, human population growth stabilized, poverty reduced and eventually eliminated, and sexual equality and guarantees of women's reproductive rights ensured.
The sooner we act, the easier it will be to overcome these difficult challenges. Every year that we stall makes it more costly and challenging, with increasing negative impacts on humans and our environment. There are signs of hope. Many countries -- as well as cities, states and provinces -- are taking global warming seriously and are working to reduce emissions and shift to cleaner energy sources. Some world leaders are even questioning our current paradigm, where the economy is made a priority above all else.
This is crucial. Over and over, the economy has determined the extent of our response, but how much value does it place on breathable air, drinkable water, edible food and stable weather and climate? Surely the economy is the means to a better future, not an end in itself. Surely it must be subordinate to a rich, diverse ecosphere that sustains all life. Let's hope this year ushers in a new way of living on and caring for our planet.
Learn more at


January 15, 2013


Not only by cell phones and internet. Above ground the whole of Everglades is connected and the water in it flows ! Unlike our forefathers considered it, it is not a stagnant swamp. And being the ‘sponge’ that Floridian peninsula is, even below the ground there is streaming in our aquifers that occasionally show off as sparking-clean springs. The fact of these flowing fresh waters changes the whole picture, our lives and of everything living around us.
Those flowing waters are all interconnected – just as WE are all connected with cars, planes, trains – and wired electronically with phones, radio, TV and, of course, the internet. What’s done “up North” affects the South – and vice versa, the same for East and West and points in between. Our life-blood, the essential primary ‘elements’ as they used to be labeled - AIR and WATER are taken for granted. But granted they are NOT. We need to be mindful of the fact that our resources, our water in particular, are NOT infinite. Remember – the Spaceship Earth ! When water is spoiled in one location, the affliction travels – and affects us all. This world is so small and getting smaller as we people rub elbows and bump into each other (right around the globe). We cannot afford dumping our pollution into our precious fresh-water.

Control that cattle - and its wastes
Waterflows become a very effective medium, eventually spreading the pollution that then travels, spreads and affects us all. It is infinitely more difficult (and expensive) to purify all that contaminated water when it is on the loose and reaches the environment around us as it moves, flows and spreads. We need to contain and remove our pollution early and ‘upstream’ before it spreads and becomes the creeping non-point source contamination as the science calls it. Long ago did we reach the point of thoroughly overwhelming mother nature’s ‘self-cleansing’ capabilities. No more of relying on that. We have to clean up. Appropriate BMPs can help - when enforced.

Control the fertilizer application
Agriculture manages to feed our exploding numbers by using huge quantities of fertilizers. Unfortunately, a great portion of these end up in water and wreak havoc on the environment – agricultural run-off making for a typical and significant non-point pollution source. To counter its deleterious effects, a multi-prong approach would make sense:
- Upstream: Develop, apply and enforce strict farm BMPs (Best Management Practices) including more effective use of more effective fertilizers, control of fertilizer applications, enforce the edge-of farm water collection, treatment and recycle. Naturally, the best is to prevent contamination in the first place.
Control and prevent agri run-off
- Downstream: Apply the best and most effective technology of P removal on an appropriate scale. Currently this is based on constructing and operating STAs. Develop radically new technologies particularly for Phosphorus removal (and recovery if feasible).
- Establish and enforce clean-up policies – and determine who pays for them.
It can be expected that such logical and necessary measures become a hot issue in the State of Florida with agricultural business and even industrial lobbies, state agencies and environmentalist NGOs working overtime just like we have seen it in case of the numerical water quality criteria introduction. However, the writing on the wall is clear – no way to keep living as we have. Let’s face it, no way to stop progress as it creeps and flows just like that water contamination everywhere. And remember – all is connected. Flow with it, clean up - for nature’s sake, for our survival sake, for our children’s sake. Our generations are connected.