Remarks by Ernest Graham on "water situation," June 10, 1946.


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Remarks by Ernest Graham on "water situation," June 10, 1946.
Series Title:
Everglades Drainage and Other Water Issues
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Publication Date:
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Box: 32
Folder: Remarks by Ernest Graham on "water situation," June 10, 1946.


Subjects / Keywords:
Everglades (Fla.)
Drainage -- Florida -- Everglades.

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Source Institution:
University of Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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1 6/10/46

A few~ weeks ago I made a short; talk on the water situation

at a reception where :1r. Seekin wras present~. As a result he

asked me to t~alk along the same lines to you folks today.

It is wiith a great deal of pleasure that I do this, as I

consider this the most important subject facing Dade County today.

A good pure wrater supply is essential for the growth of any city

and until this is assured I don't believe any city can :.cooper.~r

iianj fortunately has this water supply available and there are

f~ew cities as favorably located as Miiami. But unfortuna-tely

much misinfrormation has been given out on this subject. Or

probably I should say, instead of misinformation, that only

part of -the facts have been given out and -thereby the public

has been hot; fully informed.

As to wh~lether or not this stiatemnen~t is true, I pill let you.

be the jur l. A year ago, by new~spaper stories newspaper ads,

by public speaking, you w~ere led to believe that there wras a

water shortage in the M~iami district. I ask you, Is there a man

io this room wiho at that time did not believ-e that I~ria1 waTs

sh~ort~ of water. In order to be sure of" myr facts I wrent to the

United States Geological Survey wjith twc~o other ma~n and asked

wh~eth-er weost of Miami thzere: wasn'*Y a supPLyT of good waJter.

The- told me there w~as and that; the su~pfly wsas practically

unlimited. Since then I have twrice checked that statevnent

and each time have been told the supplyl of water exists.


At a public meeting held and attended by representatives of the

County Commission, Everglades Drainage Distriot, Miami. City

rlater Board, and the Dade Drainage District, it was openly stated

by representatives of the liate~r Board that it wvas just a matter

of dollars and cents, but that they would keep the present well field

as long as they could. They also admitted that the sewage on this

area was getting into the wrell field, but contended that it was

being purified by the limestone through which it leached.

I just asked the question, if you didn't believe there was a

shortage in the Miami area at that time.

IHe have been constantly told that by danming the canals we ~were

going to hold back a head of water sufficient to counterbalance

the salt water. Many of you may not knapw it, but~ a head of 41 feet

of fresh water is required to covarterbalance a head of 40 feet of

salt water r, In other words, if the wells are 80 feet deep we must

have a head of 82 feet of fresh water to offset the salt water.

I hold in my hand a contour map furnished me by the United Stat~es

Geolog~ical Survey, dated May 29,1946. It shows the elevation

of the ground water level in the well field. And, incidentally,

instead of the well field being as you have been told an area of

about one square mcile, by looking at this map you will see that the

pumping area is better than five square miles. It represents a

distance of sane 141,000 feet in one direction, and 12s000 in the other,

ors roughly, a cirolds-: 13,000 feet in diamneter. In case some of

you are not familiar with the map, I may s-tate that this Inu.::oing

area as shownr extends to thie north practically to the race track,

to the east a distance roughly 3,000 feet above the 36th Street

Bridge, to the south to the Pan American Air Field, and to the

west to the F~loridc3a East Coast Canal.

The grbund water level in the wvell field, which is the golf grounds,

runs fron a minus ,02 to a plus .4. Inr the Victory Trailer Camp?

the ground water runs fran plus 1 to plus 1.2, and fron 1 to 1.2

on the east. You can readily see from these figures that y ou

haven't got a balanced head. That during high tide you hgre a

salt water head the height of the tide greater than the ground

water level. liov understand that these ground water levels

wi;ere -taken after w~e had had considerable rain and that the ground

level dropped: in MIay to minlus 3.2 feet. In other wrordls, wrre had

at that time a salt wavt~er head of over five feet greater than the

fresh? wsat~er head. If such a condition continues to exist,

sane-time you're going to have a breakr and yrour well field is

going to be salted, not from the water that cones up the canal

but fromnthe water that comes in at a lower level through the

norous strata.

The people rho advocate the retzl-inin of our present well .system

ad~bd lay great stress on many of the statements in the book

"The VanishingS Eden." But they either did not read the book

through or didn't understand it, for if you w;ill read on page 232,

the author makes exactly the same statenant that I an giving you,

that some time, if this well field is not moved to a safer

location, it is going to fail, an~d that will be at the

critical tine.

In 1927 the Dade Drainage District which covers the area

bound on the north by the Dade-Browrard line, on thze east by

NWT 27th Ave~nue, on the south by ln. 20th Street, engaged the

finn of -the Mdorgan Engineering Company to rSevamp their drainage

plans. The president of the Idorga~n Enin~leeying Company wvas

Dr. Art~hur E. Iiorgan, wrho waVs one of the outstanding drainage

engineers in the world. These people wjere recommended to us

by the NTa~tional City iankll of :De~. York,. 1ihey h~ad handled some

of the biggest drainage projects in ~thwrsh this country,

among which was the Eianil Conse~rancy District at Dayton, Oh-io.

Since that time Dr. Morgan wsas director of the TVA.

Lr.i Carl A4. Book, wjho wa~js vice president of the Morgan En ineering

Comp~anyT and actively6 in charge of this .-set!, spent fron six to

weight weeks going over and la .inr out the Dade D~rainage pla~ns.

Er. Eook today is head of the Puerto Rico l~atr Resou~rces

Authority, writh headquarters ati Suxan Juan. Tihen the question

was raised as to wEhether or nob the drainage was harmful to this

community, w~e immediately set about to get Mr. Bock- to come here

and check these plans. Pressure of work delayed his coming, but

he owne oer heare in April of thbis yiear. IMr. Bookr is one of the

outstanding drainage and water engineers in knerica. In his

report; he pointed out very ably that when the United States


Geolo-ical Survey said certcagn things had to be done to

save the present well field,~ they did not state it wras

necessary ?to save this field or that it would be sound

judgment to save the field. I:1. Book mentioned in

several, instances in his report the effect on sanitation

of damnL~ ing the canal, burt he did not dw~ell on this sub~ject

particularly, as our health situation had not reached the

critical stage it is today. He stated, and I believe

rizhbtly so, that a surveyr should be made by a board of

on I-ineers. I think: this statement is just sound common


Last summer I mayde a trip to ';.ar lington and discussed this

matter writhz the heads of the United States Geological Survey,

and while -t here discussed the matter with Mr. M~alcolm Pernie of

Newi Yorkr. 141. Pernie w~as formerly consultant on w~ater-for

Miiami Beach, He is one of the outstanding water en sneers in

this countryJ. :; idea wvas that it would be good business sense

to have the various in-terested districts, such as Miami Beach,

Coral Gables, M~iam~i abd The County, bring in same competent

engineers wrho have no personal or local interest and stand in

no wva$ to make a financial profit, and have them make a study

of this problem. I have discussed this wjith some of the

officials of -the areas involved but have not -ushecd the matter

owsing to pressure of other work.

B~ut w~e have reached a condition nowr rhe~re I believe something

will have to be done. I think the present well field as located

is a menace to the health of this community. In the first place,

this area w~as an overflow area and was not a healthy place to live

until drainage was provided. Any one whjko has been here 25 years

well knows this to be a fact, A y one who hauw~w mannkMm an~I~ar was here

in 1929 knows whnat took place at that time. Today if the overflow

area that is now~ part of the different municipalities here w~as

put back in the shape it was in 1918, more than 50,000 crop~le

w~ou~ld have to 18ave their homes. If yrou damn the drainage canals

as they have been dammed this spring, all the sew~age back of -these

dams naturally has to Ego into the wrell field. If thle wrell field

wc~as abandoned and the canals damnmed solid, you wtE~ould raise the

ground water table to a level so that you wrou~ld have a sudden

surface flooding frau the septic tanks. Antd just stop and think;.--
IfBaere tIhe elevation is onlly four fee~t -- and that's the elevation

of much of the Victory Trailer Camp -- a septic tank: placed six

inches below the ground would have a discharge pipe one foot to 18

inches below the ground, which would aive an elevation of 2& feet

of what would be the ground water table, if the canal was

assaning the water was not pumped dowrn by the city wells. In my

opinion, to use the wells that furnish yiour drin1l:in- water

to drain an area that is served entirely by septic thanks, in which

sane 15,000 people live or work, is neither good engineering

no r common sense. If the health of -thi~s community is in danger

to the extent that our daily papers contended it wias during the

campaign for the sewers in the City of I.;ianid, by septic tanks

placed on a sand ridge, I think~ the voting of the sewier bonds was

__ J ~

one of the most forward steps taken in this cormmunity.

But yIou must understand that those sewers will1 not extend

into the areas where the wesll fields are located, and the

discharge from the disposal plant is ;oingr to get into

this area, and if -the present and proposed damning arrangements

are gone through w~ith, wihenever -thos e dams are closed

that disposal has to go into the present well field.

I vent to make it clear here that no one I know~ of is

opposed to placing of tide wa~zter gates that will kees the

salt bac.k into the canal, but I k~nowv rany menr who question

-to w isdom and judgment~ of holding -%he water up in the canal.


First Because it may be a menace to the health of this

c ommnity.

Second: Because thne records of the laterr Compan~8y will prove

that wihat they are attempting to do can't be done.

I quote from page 21 of the Interim Repolrt put out by

the United States Geological Survey (June 1944 issue):

"But to insure the perpetual use of the
present well field the twoe and one-half
foot average annal contour on the water
-table must pass to the east of the well
field, and this will require the
establishment of controls in the canals
to raise the water level behind the
controls to that height."

The expemriences in the past twro years w~hen they have

had the canal darmmed solid showr that -they can't get

the 2~ foot head, and throughout the dry period the

head in places has dropped as lowr as minus 3.2 feet,

and has consistently stayed down at less than one foot.

Third: The~ industrial and agricultural dev-elopment to the we~st

is blocked as long as the present plan is kept in effect.


One acre is equal to 44,100 square feet.

One acre, one foot deep, with 180 water, will carry

8,000 oubic feet of water, or 60,000 gallons.

One square mile, one foot deep, contains 38,400,000

gallons of water, or roughly one day's supply for the

H~iami area.

150 square miles, or 100,000 acres, would supply Himii

for 150 days; or a depth of on~o 100,000 acres would

supply H~iami for one year. That would require

six inches of rainfall over 100,000 acres.