Monday, May 1, 2017

A reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee: Build it, sit back, then see what happens? What about the Herbert Hoover Dike?

Later in this blog post is an excerpt from a report by Lloyd’s of London, one of the most alarming things you’ll ever read if you live in south Florida.

The Herbert Hoover Dike surrounds Lake Okeechobee:
For the PDF, copy & paste following words in italic, then Google search: The Herbert Hoover Dike: A Discussion of the Vulnerability of Lake Okeechobee to Levee Failure, Cause, Effect and the Future.

If you’ve been following the news such as this from Post reporter Susan Salisbury you know there is a lot, and growing, resistance to the idea of constructing a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee to fix South Florida’s ‘plumbing’.* Here’s an excerpt from the article in the Post titled, “EAA Farmers [Everglades Agricultural Area farmers south of Lake Okeechobee], landowners to tell legislature: We do not want to sell”:

“We are not willing sellers,” said John L. Hundley, chairman of the board of the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida, Belle Glade, and president of Hundley Farms. “Taking our farmlands out of production to pursue a plan that is not science-based will not fix the problems in the coastal estuaries. [emphasis added] Instead, taking fertile farmland will punish the thousands of hard-working farm families and farming businesses in our rural Everglades Agricultural Area.”

The one thing that’s important to remember is this: the idea to “Send the Water South!” into a reservoir is a theory. No one knows if it will work. Or not work. But the taxpayers will have to fork up billions of dollars to find out.

However, if the Herbert Hoover Dike surrounding Lake Okeechobee fails what will happen is not theoretical: a mass grave in West Palm Beach is proof of that (that mass grave, by the way, was only for Black people. The White people were buried in caskets somewhere else).

Now for the report from Lloyd’s of London on the Herbert Hoover Dike which technically no longer serves as a dike: 

“And this brings us to the key concern; the dyke is no longer being used solely as a levee to protect the area from flooding when storms are in the vicinity but also to hold a permanent reserve of water. The lake is being used as a reservoir and therefore the dyke is now operating as a dam. [emphasis added]
     This means that water is pushing against the dyke nearly all of the time and that the risk does not come solely from a hurricane event. The dyke must act like a normal reservoir, i.e. be able to safely store floodwaters without overtopping.
     The dyke was built from un-compacted earth, made up of naturally porous materials such as peat, gravel, sand and shell and is therefore prone to leaks.
     Since the construction of the dyke, the land outside of the dyke has been eroding, particularly on the south side of the lake.
     The Herbert Hoover Dike, when built, was never intended to be used in this way and it has only recently been designated to be a dam. The flood criterion for dams is far more stringent than that which it has previously been subject to and also to which it is currently able to meet.

Should the Herbert Hoover Dike be breached, or collapse anywhere, the result would be disastrous. Not just for people and the communities surrounding Lake Okeechobee, but for the environment as well.

And one more fact: There was another algae bloom along the Treasure Coast this year. There haven’t been any water releases from Lake Okeechobee into the Indian River Lagoon so far in 2017. How does one explain that? And. . .
For more “Myth vs. FACT” use this link.

*On August 2nd, 2016, in Resolution No. 38, an item by Lake Worth Commissioner Chris McVoy, PhD, referred to the “plumbing in South Florida” and supported the idea of building a reservoir. This became an embarrassment and the resolution was quickly and “ingloriously deleted”; the issue was never brought up again by McVoy. It should be noted that Belle Glade Mayor Wilson, Pahokee Mayor Babb, South Bay Mayor Kyles, nor Mayor Roland in Clewiston was ever given a courtesy call ahead of time about this resolution by McVoy seeking their thoughts on this topic.