April 2023

Well. haven’t we been lucky with this splendid weather!! AND, the mango tree has gone nuts with blooms this year so ma, ma, mango season is looking good.

The Growing Water Crisis

What seems to be happening is EXTREMES!! In place of the climate we all are used to it’s either too much water too fast or not enough water. Drought is a big, big problem.

“The Colorado River, which provides drinking water to 40 million people in seven states is drying up, straining a water distribution pact amid the worst drought in 1200 years, exacerbated by climate change. The pact between Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and California envisaged 20 million acre feet of water to be allocated-now its down to 12.5 million feet on average.” (Reuters, 2/1) Don’t a lot of winter vegetables get produced there?

At the other extreme: “It is still snowing in the Sierra Nevada after a weekend storm dumped several more feet of snow on top of the 12 feet that fell during the prior two weeks. A staggering 48.33 feet of snow has fallen so far this winter. The Sierra Nevada now has a snow pack that is 186 to 269% of normal.” (Washington Post, 3/6) And more snow is expected!! This of course is a blessing and a curse. A blessing because three months ago about 41% of California was facing the worst two categories of drought —“extreme” or “exceptional” according to the U.S Drought Monitor. Now both tiers have been eliminated. On the other hand with temperatures forecast to slowly rise. the concern is that an increasing portion of the coming precipitation will fall as rain, melting the snow pack and leading to serious flooding risks.

Meanwhile in Europe

“Venice canals start to run dry as low tide and lack of rain hit. The problems in Venice are being blamed on a combination of lack of rain, unusually low tides and sea currents.” (Reuters, 2/23) “In Germany, shallow waters on the Rhine are already disrupting barge traffic, forcing boats heading up into central Europe to load at half capacity. The Alps have had 63% less snow than usual. After it’s driest summer in 500 years, much of Europe is in the grip of a winter drought. According to a study by Graz University of Technology, the water situation In Europe is very precarious. President Emmanuel Macron of France warned the time of abundance had come to an end.” (The Guardian, 3/4) Pretty scary stuff!!! Here in Miami so far our problem is water quality—remember all those dead fish in the bay two summers ago? And this is something all of us can do something about!!

Miami Waterkeeper.org

Launched in 2010, Miami WaterKeeper is dedicated to achieving swimmable, drinkable, fishable water. It’s achieved some great results in the last 13 years, including successfully lobbying to stop a proposed $6 billion plan that included the construction of a 30 foot high wall in Biscayne Bay to stop storm surge and successfully spearheading a campaign to prevent the state of Florida from allowing more cancer causing and toxic chemicals in our water.

Miami Waterkeeper and Coral Gables

Currently, one of their projects is assessing the quality and habitat in the Coral Gables waterway in partnership with FIU, University of Miami, University of Massachusetts, NOAA and the Village of Key Biscayne to find out what’s in the water and how it’s affecting the environment. What we all have to keep in mind is that because Miami is built on limestone rock, which is very porous, you don’t have to be on the waterway to affect water quality!!! Whatever you put on your yard will eventually end up in the bay….So far the team has found very high levels of nutrients in the water and evidence of waste water. One of our problems is that there are a lot of septic tanks in Coral Gables and if you have one you need to make sure its working well also unfortunately there is sewage seep from cracking and leaking pipes and storm water runoff. In fact the County is under a Federal Consent decree to spend more money on this problem.

Of course nutrients also mean all the fertilizer you put on your yard. Remember whatever you put on your yard eventually ends up in the Bay. Miami Waterkeeper was able to get a rule in place in 2021 stating no fertilizer use in the rainy summer months and no phosphorus at all. We all know what too much nutrients lead to–massive algae blooms that suck all the oxygen out of the water and lead to dead fish!! The county released the 2022 Biscayne Bay report card in April and noted the Gables Waterway was in fair condition while North Bay, Miami River and Arch Creek were rated poor.

Pesticides that you use in your yard will also end up polluting the water. And of course pesticides kill insects which in turn means less food for the birds.

Good Stuff

How would like to volunteer to help the Waterkeepers on their projects?


Would you like to have your teenager become a Waterkeeper Junior Ambassador?


About the Author

Linda Lawrence Waldron

Linda Lawrence Waldron currently writes the Green Gables column in Gables Living Magazine. Linda was Chairman of the Garden Club's Coral Gables Library Butterfly Garden Committee.

She is the author of the Coral Gables Library Butterfly booklet (PDF). It gives you the "how to’s" for having your own butterfly garden. 
Linda attended the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew, England School of Garden Design.

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