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Flood the Sugar Cane Farms Now to Save the Estuaries: Is This Feasible ? Water Resources Advisory Commission January 5, 2006 Meeting.

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Presentation on theme: "Flood the Sugar Cane Farms Now to Save the Estuaries: Is This Feasible ? Water Resources Advisory Commission January 5, 2006 Meeting."— Presentation transcript:

1 Flood the Sugar Cane Farms Now to Save the Estuaries: Is This Feasible ? Water Resources Advisory Commission January 5, 2006 Meeting

2 Flood the Sugar Cane Farms Now to Save the Estuaries: Is This Feasible ? Numerous Issues Water quantity and quality Water quantity and quality Socio-economic consequences Socio-economic consequences Financial, legal and engineering questions Financial, legal and engineering questions Do Benefits outweigh Costs?  Will it help the Lake, the Estuaries or the Everglades ?  What will it cost ?

3  A key component of the CERP is “more storage” Governor’s Commission for a Sustainable South Florida (1996) Governor’s Commission for a Sustainable South Florida (1996) C&SF Project Restudy (1999) C&SF Project Restudy (1999)  Storage in the EAA has been extensively analyzed Reservoir sizes determined in the Restudy Reservoir sizes determined in the Restudy based on multiple performance and cost considerations based on multiple performance and cost considerations not as simple as “more is better” not as simple as “more is better”  15 years of Progress on Everglades water quantity and quality. Previous Studies of Storage in the EAA

4 The Restudy  “More modeling was done concerning EAA storage than any other component in the screening phase” (Yellow Book, p. B-25)  Screening model looked at sizes up to 200,000 acres.  Detailed analysis of 20,000 to 80,000 acre reservoirs.  The selected plan specified a maximum of 360,000 acre feet of storage.  Increasing the size of the reservoir had negative environmental and economic impacts.  Acceler8 now proceeding with first phase of the EAA Reservoir to store 190,000 acre-feet.

5 Question: Why have Lake Okeechobee discharges been so high in recent years? Answer: Climate indicators suggest a wet regime has returned to south Florida.  Rainfall during the 2004 & 2005 wet seasons produced very large inflows to Lake Okeechobee Rainfall 13.5” above normal in Upper Kissimmee 2004 & 2005 Rainfall 13.5” above normal in Upper Kissimmee 2004 & 2005 Inflows 8 th & 9 th highest since 1914 Inflows 8 th & 9 th highest since higher years include 1928 & higher years include 1928 & 1947  By design, large releases from Lake Okeechobee to the estuaries have been required for the last 100 years. Water Quantity Issues

6 Wet Season: June-October

7 Question: How much excess water was discharged from Lake O. during ? Water Quantity Issues (continued) Provisional discharge estimates in thousand acre-feet

8 Question: How much excess water was discharged to the estuaries during ? Water Quantity Issues (continued) Provisional discharge estimates in thousand acre-feet Note: These estimates do not include inflows to the estuaries from tributaries downstream of S-79 or S-80.

9 Question: Assuming 400,000 acres could be flooded, would there still be damaging discharges to the Estuaries? Answer: Yes, particularly during wet years like  Modeling the 36 year period of record for today’s system and operation shows: In 17 of 36 years there was no regulatory discharge In 17 of 36 years there was no regulatory discharge In 27 of 36 years discharge was < 600,000 ac-ft/year In 27 of 36 years discharge was < 600,000 ac-ft/year In 6 of 36 years discharge was greater than 1,000,000 ac-ft/year In 6 of 36 years discharge was greater than 1,000,000 ac-ft/year Water Quantity Issues (continued)

10 Question: Would the EAA be flooded every year? Answer: No. Regulatory releases follow the climate cycles. Storage areas would be inactive during dry years for 75% of the years that were simulated. Storage areas would be inactive during dry years for 75% of the years that were simulated. Restudy analysis could not justify cost of buying land and building a huge reservoir that is underutilized in most years. Restudy analysis could not justify cost of buying land and building a huge reservoir that is underutilized in most years.  Regulatory discharges often happen in consecutive years Storage areas would be full after first wet year and not available during successive wet years. Storage areas would be full after first wet year and not available during successive wet years. Water Quantity Issues (continued)

11 Estimated Total Regulatory Discharge from Lake Okeechobee (million ac-ft) 3.0 Simulated flow for with today’s system & operation Actual flow for

12  We have spent the last 15 years implementing the Everglades Construction Project and other elements of the EFA.  Flooding the EAA farms raises numerous issues in the context of the EFA and the Federal Consent Decree that could threaten the progress to date. Rainfall on flooded fields would produce a much different timing, quality and quantity of runoff to the STAs. Rainfall on flooded fields would produce a much different timing, quality and quantity of runoff to the STAs. The initial flooding is likely to mobilize high levels of soil phosphorus. The initial flooding is likely to mobilize high levels of soil phosphorus. Drying and re-wetting will cause continuing water quality issues and problems with exotic species. Drying and re-wetting will cause continuing water quality issues and problems with exotic species. Muck fires on the former farm land will pose a significant risk Muck fires on the former farm land will pose a significant risk SFWMD would have to operate the farm water management systems to continue to provide flow to the Everglades during the many years without Lake releases. SFWMD would have to operate the farm water management systems to continue to provide flow to the Everglades during the many years without Lake releases. Everglades Issues

13 Everglades Agricultural Area Existing and Proposed STAs & Storage Areas

14 Estimated Costs Temporary use of the land is not an option. Flooding the cane and vegetable farms would eliminate the Florida sugar industry and most vegetable farms. 400,000 acres of sugar cane land would cost between $4 billion - $8 billion. 400,000 acres of sugar cane land would cost between $4 billion - $8 billion. Must also add the costs of mills, refineries, distribution centers, railroads, farms and future income, which would have to be paid to the current owners. Must also add the costs of mills, refineries, distribution centers, railroads, farms and future income, which would have to be paid to the current owners. Costs associated with the new infrastructure necessary to safely store 1 to 2 feet of water on most of the EAA are unknown, but are likely to be very high. Costs associated with the new infrastructure necessary to safely store 1 to 2 feet of water on most of the EAA are unknown, but are likely to be very high. Reduction in Florida employment (including multiplier impacts) = 19,800 jobs (~1 job lost in Florida per every 20 acres taken out of production). Reduction in Florida employment (including multiplier impacts) = 19,800 jobs (~1 job lost in Florida per every 20 acres taken out of production). Does not include social or economic impacts to communities around the Lake. Does not include social or economic impacts to communities around the Lake.

15 Flooding the EAA - Summary  Lake O. is not saved EAA is less than 3% of the Lake’s inflow and P-load since 2001 EAA is less than 3% of the Lake’s inflow and P-load since 2001 Flooding the EAA does not help Lake water quality Flooding the EAA does not help Lake water quality To control exotics and prevent muck fires on the former farm land, larger supplies from the Lake will be needed during dry periods To control exotics and prevent muck fires on the former farm land, larger supplies from the Lake will be needed during dry periods  Estuaries are not saved There would still be years when large discharges to the estuaries would be required (e.g. 2005) There would still be years when large discharges to the estuaries would be required (e.g. 2005) Much of the damaging flow and poor water quality to the estuaries is from development in the local basins Much of the damaging flow and poor water quality to the estuaries is from development in the local basins  Everglades WCAs cannot accept more inflow Already stressed by high water during wet years Already stressed by high water during wet years P-load limitations per the EFA & Federal Consent Decree P-load limitations per the EFA & Federal Consent Decree

16 Flooding the EAA - Summary  An extremely expensive undertaking. $4 billion - $8 billion for 400,000 acres of productive cane land $4 billion - $8 billion for 400,000 acres of productive cane land Billions more to reimburse the investment in plant and equipment Billions more to reimburse the investment in plant and equipment Additional costs to construct and operate water control facilities needed to flood the property Additional costs to construct and operate water control facilities needed to flood the property  Social costs would be enormous Thousands of jobs lost immediately Thousands of jobs lost immediately Rural communities around the Lake destroyed Rural communities around the Lake destroyed Bottom Line: Huge Social and Economic Cost – Minimal Benefits Huge Social and Economic Cost – Minimal Benefits So what is the solution? Implement LOER and Acceler8 Projects. Evaluate additional ideas for storage and treatment north of the Lake and in the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie watersheds. Implement LOER and Acceler8 Projects. Evaluate additional ideas for storage and treatment north of the Lake and in the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie watersheds.


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