Does Water Flow Influence Everglades Landscape Patterns? (2003)
A commonly stated goal of the CERP is to “get the water right.” This has largely meant restoring the timing and duration of water levels and the water quality in the Everglades. Water flow (speed, discharge, direction) has been considered mainly in the coastal and estuarine system, but not elsewhere. Should the restoration plan be setting targets for flows in other parts of the Everglades as well?
There are legitimate reasons why flow velocities and discharges have thus far not received greater emphasis in the plan. These include a relative lack of field information and poor resolution of numerical models for flows. There are, however, compelling reasons to believe that flow has important influences in the central Everglades ecosystem. The most important reason is the existence of major, ecologically important landforms—parallel ridges, sloughs, and “tree islands”—are aligned with present and inferred past flow directions. There are difficulties in interpreting this evidence, however, as it is essentially circumstantial and not quantitative.
Alternative mechanisms by which flow may influence this landscape can to some extent be evaluated from short-term research on underlying bedrock topography, detailed surface topographic mapping, and accumulation rates of suspended organic matter. Nonetheless, more extensive and long-term research will also be necessary, beginning with the development of alternative conceptual models of the formation and maintenance of the landscape to guide a research program. Research on maintenance rather than evolution of the landscape should have higher priority because of its direct impact on restoration. Monitoring should be designed for the full range of flow conditions, including extreme events.
Overall, flows approximating historical discharges, velocities, timing, and distribution should be considered in restoration design, but quantitative flow-related performance measures are not appropriate until there is a better scientific understanding of the underlying science. At present, neither a minimum nor a maximum flow to preserve the landscape can be established.
Florida Bay Research Programs and Their Relation to the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (2002)
This report of the Committee on Restoration of the Greater Everglades Ecosystem (CROGEE) evaluated Florida Bay studies and restoration activities that potentially affect the success of the CERP. Florida Bay is a large, shallow marine system immediately south of the Everglades, bounded by the Florida Keys and the Gulf of Mexico. Some of the water draining from the Everglades flows directly