Climate Change Considerations for Surface Water and Groundwater Flows in the Everglades

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1 Climate Change Considerations for Surface Water and Groundwater Flows in the Everglades Robert Johnson National Park Service/ENP Hydrology of the Everglades in the Context of Climate Change March 30, 2012

2 Climate Variability and Water Management South Florida rainfall patterns create alternating wet and dry periods, which are difficult to manage. Stationary assumptions are no longer valid, making it harder to evaluate water resource demands and risks. Climate change predictions suggest increased rainfall variability, slightly drier wet seasons with increased tropical cyclone intensity. Knowledge Gap: Managing extreme rainfall events.

3 The Current Water Management System 1, , Avg. Annual Flows in 1,000 ac-ft/yr Current Water Budget (LORS/T3) The Central and Southern Florida (C&SF) Project features are rather poor at retaining excess water following high rainfall periods. More than 3.5 million acre-feet of water is lost to tide in an average year, with 25% coming from Everglades seepage losses. The most viable options retaining this water are adjusting Lake Okeechobee operations, increasing flows into the Water Conservation Areas, and reducing groundwater seepage into the Lower East Coast. Each of these options create tradeoffs between flood control, water supply, and water quality.

4 The Impacts of Urban/Agricultural Development In the Lower East Coast Total water use in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties increased from 875 to 2,147 MGD between 1965 and Average wet season groundwater levels declined by 1-3 feet (orange colors) from the 1940 s to the 1990 s. Source: Impact of Anthropogenic Development in SE Florida, USGS, 2005.

5 Water Management in Lake Okeechobee Lake Okeechobee inflows routinely exceed outflows, and high Lake levels impact levee safety and damage the littoral zone. Lowering Lake levels creates harmful discharges to the northern estuaries, and significantly impacts regional water availability. Knowledge Gaps: Greater outflow flexibility, development of optimal long-term operations for sustainability. Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Jeanne, Aug Sept 2004 Hurricane Wilma, Oct 2005 Regulation Schedule Change Tropical Storm Fay, Aug 2008

6 Water Flow Improvements in the Everglades Improved wetland health and resilience is linked to increasing water depths/flooding durations and soil accretion. Flow increases support Everglades restoration and water supply availability by redirecting excess flows currently going to tide. Knowledge Gap: Improved conveyance to allow sheetflow and rainfall-driven operations. Mean Monthly Flow (thousand ac-ft) Average Everglades Protection Area Monthly Inflow Distribution Current (~1400 kaf/yr) CERP (~1700 kaf/yr) NSRSM (~2100 kaf/yr) 20% Increase 50% Increase 0 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

7 Increased Everglades Inflows via Reduced Northern Estuary Regulatory Releases Enhanced Everglades Inflows = Reduced Estuarine Harm Current Enhanced 40% Reduction 80% Reduction

8 Reducing Seepage Losses from the Everglades Water Preserve Areas: Capture and store excess runoff from the Lower East Coast currently going to tide. ENP Seepage Mgmt.: Install a barrier to block groundwater seepage. Knowledge Gap: Determine the most cost effective method. Everglades Agricultural Area WCA-3A Lox. NWR WCA-2A Strazzulla Wetlands Seepage Barrier Hard Layer (Q4) Hard Layer (Q3) ENP Seepage Mgmt. Modified WD, C-111 SD, C-111 SC

9 The Post-CERP Water Management System 1, , Avg. Annual Flows in 1,000 ac-ft/yr Future Water Budget (CERPA) Proposed CERP features would retain on average 950,000 acrefeet/year currently lost to tide. This would increase resilience of the water management system to climate variability, climate change, and sea level rise. The concern is that many of the original CERP water storage features (regional ASR, Lakebelt, Water Preserve Areas) are no longer considered viable. Knowledge Gaps: New storage approaches (Lake O./EAA/WCAs), and new optimization tools that maximize restoration benefits while enhancing long-term water sustainability for the built system.

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