Everglades Illustrated: Stormwater Treatment Areas — Your tax dollars at work

Take a look at the graph above, showing data collected by the South Florida Water Management District and consider the following: There are roughly 60,000 acres of taxpayer-funded stormwater treatment areas (STAs) south of Lake Okeechobee. These man-made wetlands are designed to store and treat water before it reaches the southern Everglades. For each of the last 10 water years depicted above, the yellow portion of the bars represent the volume of water sent to the STAs directly from Lake Okeechobee. The much larger blue portion represents runoff sent to those same STAs by sources including indistrial sugarcane farms in the Everglades Agricultural Area. So what’s the problem? Coastal communities downstream of Lake Okeechobee are familiar with the horror that [...]

2022-05-11T10:03:26-04:00May 10th, 2022|Everglades Illustrated|

Everglades Illustrated: The Scientific Uncertainty of ASR

Photo Credit: South Florida Water Management District The Scientific Uncertainty of ASR Each of the red outlines in the map above indicates a proposed cluster of aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) wells. Pitched as an answer to water-storage needs north of Lake Okeechobee, the wells’ feasible use within Everglades restoration and exorbitant cost have been at the center of heated debate in Florida’s environmental community. Proponents claim the technology offers a way to store large volumes of water deep in the aquifer — water that would otherwise pour untreated into Lake Okeechobee. But scientific concerns abound. Some experts say they’re inefficient and won’t have enough capacity to relieve toxic discharges, and they warn that metals dissolved in the [...]

Everglades Illustrated: SB 2508 is still a danger to Florida’s environment

The fight to kill Senate Bill 2508 isn't over. We outlined the reasons that this bill is still a danger to Florida's environment in a recent Clean Water Conversation. The long-story-short explanation is listed in the graphic above. You can find more information about why we still have major concerns by clicking here. Though amended to remove some of the most damaging provisions, there is no reason to let our guard down, and we need your help rallying others to help us kill this bill for good. If you haven't already, use the button below to send a message to Senate President Wilton Simpson, Senator Ben Albritton, Representative Chris Sprowls, and Representative Josie Tomkow today. If you've already done so, [...]

Everglades Illustrated: Cane burning risks human health

https://youtu.be/_89aQ3YSt-g Watch this video. Orange flames spit through the air as sugarcane leaves are burned from the stalk for harvest. Thick black smoke swirls and a single white bird wings its way above the fire. Florida Forest Service Active Burn Tracking Satellite Map - Feb. 8, 2022 Now look at this map. Each of those cones on the map indicates a sugarcane burn notice happening today and the direction of its plume. Dozens of these burns can happen on any given day from October to May, filling the air of surrounding towns with smoke and soot that can travel miles from the initial burn sites. At greatest risk are the children and the elderly residents of the Glades [...]

2022-02-08T11:38:53-05:00February 8th, 2022|All Posts, Everglades Illustrated, Sugarcane Burning|

Everglades Illustrated: The power of seagrass

Last week’s 37th annual Everglades Coalition Conference has us thinking about the importance of a particular building block throughout the greater Everglades ecosystem: seagrass. During the conference, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava reminded us of an astounding fact: Florida wetlands, including mangroves, salt marshes and seagrass meadows, are much more efficient at sequestering carbon than even rainforests — making them some of the most efficient natural carbon storage environments in the world and considerably boosting our natural resilience to the impacts of climate change. In Florida, seagrass benefits don’t just end there. Seagrasses provide critical nursery habitat and feeding grounds for countless fish and aquatic animal species. Years of unchecked pollution and algae blooms have caused mass die-off events [...]

2022-01-11T11:27:32-05:00January 11th, 2022|All Posts, Everglades Illustrated|

Everglades Illustrated: LOSOM must protect the estuaries

The Everglades is vast, and restoration is complex. We're breaking it down visually for you. Are Throwback Tuesdays a thing? We’re making them one today, as we take a look back at an image from 2016. The photo above was taken in a neighborhood canal off of the St. Lucie River during a time that is infamously remembered as the toxic summer of 2016. That summer, images like this one were not uncommon in the coastal community of Stuart, Florida — the east coast ground zero for Lake Okeechobee discharges. For those who lived through it, this picture brings to mind a particularly horrific smell. The guacamole-thick mats of blue-green algae emitted a stench so overwhelming that residents had trouble being outdoors. [...]

2021-11-09T12:25:55-05:00November 9th, 2021|Everglades Illustrated, LOSOM|

Everglades Illustrated: Florida’s sugarcane region has some of the smokiest air across America

Look at the map above. The data tracks the increasing prevalence of wildfire smoke across the nation. It’s no surprise to see parts of California and the Midwest are lit up in red, due to dangerous wildfires that tear annually through areas of dry vegetation. What stood out is the data represented in our own backyards in Florida. The data-mapping project from National Public Radio and Stanford University’s Environmental Change and Human Outcomes Lab found that parts of Palm Beach, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee counties recorded the worst smoke days in the United States — even higher than the wildfire-prone West Coast. That’s right — some of the most dangerous air in America is produced as a result of an [...]

2021-10-12T10:56:41-04:00October 12th, 2021|Everglades Illustrated, Sugarcane Burning|

Everglades Illustrated: Dangerous development threatens the Everglades

The map above tells the story of a looming threat to Biscayne Bay. Developers in Miami-Dade County are pushing to convert 794 acres of “farmland of unique importance” to 9 million square feet of industrial development. This green space sits outside the county’s Urban Development Boundary, and within Coastal High Hazard Area — which is “among the areas least suitable for urban development” due to storm surge vulnerabilities, according to county staff. Despite a scathing report by the County’s own planning and environmental staff about the dangers posed by the South Dade Technology & Logistics project, the Board of County Commissioners voted September 9 to transmit the proposal to the state for review. In a shocking display of one-sided politics, [...]

2021-09-14T14:13:30-04:00September 14th, 2021|Everglades Illustrated, Homestead Air Reserve Base|

Everglades Illustrated: The northern estuaries are stronger together

See the three southern outlets from Lake Okeechobee circled in red? Each of them represents an opportunity to remove harm from the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries. This week the Army Corps of Engineers announced its goals for improving the foundation of a new plan that will govern releases from Lake Okeechobee for the next decade, called LOSOM. The “optimization” goals presented were the result of thousands of public comments submitted to the Corps by stakeholders across the state — including Friends of the Everglades supporters. The Corps aims to strike more regional balance throughout a system that has long catered to the powerful agricultural industry south of Lake Okeechobee. Though we viewed the foundational plan selected as an encouraging [...]

2021-08-10T12:06:18-04:00August 10th, 2021|Everglades Illustrated, LOSOM|

Everglades Illustrated: An industry exposed

  NASA satellite image of multiple sugarcane fires burning near Belle Glade, Florida, acquired January 5, 2021 See the plumes of smoke in the satellite image above? They mark actively burning sugarcane fields, a practice that’s been used for decades at the expense of exposed residents to make harvesting cheaper. The surrounding black squares show an expansive checkerboard of recently burned sugar fields in the Everglades Agricultural Area. Now imagine living in that area where skies regularly fill with dark smoke that causes eyes to sting and chests to tighten almost every day for six or more months of the year. In Glades communities, nestled south of Lake Okeechobee, that’s reality. Sugar companies set fire to cane fields spanning [...]

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