AN AREA OF RECENT RAPID GROWTH
Energy, Water, and Land Use Analysis with
Recommendations for Best Economic Vitality
Mark T. Brown -
State of Florida
Department of Administration
Division of State Planning
of Special Reports for Decision Makers
Center for Wetlands
University of Florida
July 16, 1975
As man's influence in any landscape becomes the major feature,
planning for future alternatives of land, energy and water use becomes
increasingly important. The concern becomes one of insuring long-range
values and high quality of life by insuring that different land uses do
not conflict, that energy for productivity is available in the quanti-
ties needed, and that there is sufficient high-quality water for the
needs of the population.
This report is concerned with these things, and others; and their
influence on long-range values and quality of life. Trends of land use
are presented, the energy requirements of productivity are analyzed,
and trends in energy availability discussed. The economy of Lee County
is analyzed, and the exchanges of major exported and imported goods and
services are discussed in light of future ability to maintain balance
of payments. A method of calculating carrying capacity as a basis for
a vital economy is suggested and demonstrated, and, finally, suggestions
for regional well-being and a process of development that will insure
long-range values and enhance quality of life are presented.
LEE COUNTY, AN AREA OF RECENT RAPID GROWTH
Lee County in southwest Florida is shown in Figures 1 and 2. The
county has been one of the fastest growing districts in Florida and in
the nation. The area is now dominated by the rapid growth of Ft. Myers
and housing developments along the estuaries and elsewhere. Originally,
the varied countryside had beaches, estuaries, swamps, uplands (Figure
1), and favorable climate that attracted large economic investments
that were the base of rapid inflow of additional purchased energies.
The pattern of man and nature that had developed by 1973 is given in
Prominent in the primitive condition (Figure 1), and to a small
extent in the present condition as well, are the many wetland systems
that are a result of abundant rainfall (approximately 54" per year) and
low land elevation. At the county's widest point, the land rises barely
30 feet from sea level. In the primitive condition the groundwater
table was within 30 inches of the surface year around over more than
90% of the land area; and approximately 25% of the countryside had
surface water throughout most of the year. Thousands of marshes and
ponds dotted the landscape receiving wet season rains, allowing some to
run off through cypress and marsh sloughs eventually to the Gulf, but
retaining most for the long dry season that followed.
Pineland systems of pine flatwoods and sand pine communities com-
prised roughly 56% of the land area, mostly north of the Caloosahatchee
River and along the south bank where the city of Ft. Myers now stands.
Dotting these pineland systems were many marshes and ponds. The south-
east areas of the county were predominately wetland systems with scattered
"islands" of pine systems on the higher grounds. Patterns of surface
runoff are evidenced by the pattern and types of vegetation communities.
A ridge line that now corresponds to SR 82 separated the eastern part
of the county into two major watersheds. Above the ridge line waters
flowed north and west, much flowing into a twelve mile slough that fed
the Orange River and eventually into the Caloosahatchee River. To the
south of the ridge surface, waters flowed through a complex array of
marshes and cypress sloughs that formed the headwaters of Hendry Creek,
Mullock Creek, Estero River, Halfway Creek, Spring Creek, Imperial River,
and Corkscrew Swamp.
Today, a large part of the natural drainage features of the land-
scape have been altered. Sloughs and marshes have been channelized to
facilitate fast removal of wet season waters. Canals in many places
are deep enough to lower groundwater as much as eight feet. Scraped
and altered lands, paved areas, and developed lawns have increased run-
off; all adding to the problem of wet season sporadic flooding, which
in turn, calls for "improved" drainage facilities to alleviate the down-
stream flooding, Increased runoff quantities and higher nutrient loads
are being received by the estuarine systems of Estero Bay, Caloosahatchee
River, Matlacha Pass and San Carlos Bay causing sharp fluctuations in
salinities and nutrient loads that may stress these systems. Figure 2
shows Lee County at the present state with major land uses indicated.
Most of the pineland systems of the northern part of the county are
developed for housing and commercial uses and much of the southeastern
portion has been developed for agriculture uses. Large areas throughout
the county such as the Cape Coral area north of the Caloosahatchee
River have been "prepared" for development by removal of natural vege-
tation. Other areas have been "prepared" for development leaving some
natural vegetation, but having roads installed, and drainage canals dug
to insure fast removal of wet season rains. Development strategies of
this nature neglect the value of natural areas, and assume that current
"tastes" for attractive homes will continue for some time. That is to
say, future residents will still consider the lack of natural (indigi-
nious) vegetation attractive; when the reverse might be true especially
as citizens become increasingly aware of the value of natural vegeta-
tion, and the energy expense of maintaining artificial, exotic land-
The land prepared for development in Lee County (the gray colored
areas on the map) amount to approximately 62,000 acres, If we assume
5 housing units per acre, 3 people per unit, the population of the
County when these developments are full could reach well over 1 million.
This is considering just the lands that are already "committed" to
development housing. Each month new developments are proposed for
other areas throughout the county, that will commit even more area for
development. The question is raised then, how many people can Lee
County house within its boundaries and still retain the unique qualities
and services to its present population that make it such an attractive
place to live?
To answer this question we must consider a number of things;
first, in order to increase the population of the area, energy must be
available to build new structures, housing, commercial areas, schools,
government buildings, roads, and all the other support facilities neces-
sary for support of the populations. Second, jobs must be found for
many of these individuals. While it is understood a good many may be
retirees that are living on pensions and social security, some will re-
quire an increased job market. Some, it is true, will work at providing
services for the larger population but this amounts to 1 in 5... we will
still have to find jobs for 4 others for each one working in the ser-
vice industry. And third, the increased population will generate more
garbage, more sewage, crowd already congested roads, increase demands
for already short supplies of water, and crowd already crowded beaches.
The qualities that make Lee County an attractive area, and help to
create the image that draws tourists to southwest Florida are strongly
related to the "natural systems," or areas of beaches, bays, swamps, and
pines, As the population grows, so do the stresses placed on an already
stressed natural system. More lands must be drained and scraped for
roads, houses, and stores, increased amounts of sewage must be assimu-
lated by the natural areas throughout the county, and so on. The greater
the densities of people the greater the energy costs to support them.
No longer can developments get away with the inexpensive "septic-tank"
as a means of sewage treatment (while densities are sparse this is a
perfectly acceptable and efficient means of treatment). Now secondary
treatment facilities are required for all developments. Soon the en-
vironment will no longer assimulate the quantities of nutrients generated
from the greater number of these plants and their increased loads. Ad-
vanced waste water treatment (or tertiary treatment) will be necessary,
increasing the costs tremendously to maintain each man,woman and child
in Lee County, This is only one example, the costs of all services
will increase. As an example of what might be in store, consider that
in the last 10 years while the population in Lee County has increased
% the per capital costs of services has increased % (this is ad-
justed for inflation at 4%/year).
In our consideration of the question of how many more people Lee
County can support, the terms energy costs, and available energy will
be the major considerations by which we will evaluate this question.
Energy is the driving force that maintains our urban "systems." Every-
thing that man does, everything that he consumes, is bade possible by
large amounts of supporting fossil fuel energy.
The implications of energy availability to support population
centers are becoming more apparent as worldwide shortages, embargoes,
and demands come and go, As a result, many alternative means are being
considered and tried to reduce energy utilization throughout our economy.
Since energy is at the base of all our processes that support our ur-
ban centers including the manufacturing and transportation of goods and
materials, it may become increasingly difficult, and expensive to fi-
nance growth. In fact, growth of regions populations and supporting
structure, as well as their economies, may no longer be possible.
For these reasons, it is important to quantify the flows of energy
and money (for the money a region has, has direct bearing on the energy
it may obtain), which support and drive the county as a whole, With a
good understanding of the energy requirements that Lee County now has,
and the means by which the county pays for this energy, we gain some
insight into what effects future energy shortages, inflationary ten-
dencies, and a nationally depressed economy may have on the overall
economy and "standard of living" in the county.
Figure 3 is a simplified balance of payments diagram, showing the
major flows of energies and materials, and their accompanying money
flows that cross the boundaries of the region. Goods sold and money
received are to the right, and imports with expenditures are to the
left. All the flows of energy are expressed in kilocalories (1000
calories) of energy. The diamond symbol represents the exchange, or
price, of the flows of energy, so that money flows in the opposite
direction to the flow of energy. Each import has an energy value,
Natural energy inflowing is the work of nature, such 'as sunlight, winds,
waves, and tides, that the people of Lee County receive benefit from.
The inflow labeled Fuels is all the fuel such as gasoline, heating oil,
natural gas, and the fuel used to generate electricity. The inflow of
Food is the calorie value of the food consumed in Lee County plus all
the fossil fuel energy it took to grow, process, and transport it.
The Energy Value of the goods and materials imported is all the fossil
fuel energy consumed to make and transport the goods to Lee County.
The exports are calculated in the same manner.
The diagram, then, is an energy demand diagram, as well as a
balance of payments diagram. We can now better understand from what
sources Lee County, "as a system" gets its money, and how it spends
it. Consider, for example, that 22% of the county's income comes from
tourist expenditures, another 38% comes from transfer payments (pen-
sions, social security, and earning from outside Lee County), and 20%
is derived from the sale of manufactured products, agricultural products,
and fish products,
It is interesting to note how this money is spent for incoming
energies, and the quantities of energy that Lee County demands. Today
as energy continues to be in relative short supply we are asked again
and again to lower our consumption, stop wasting energy. A look at
our balance of payment diagram shows us where the real energy wastes
are. The flow labeled Fuel is all the direct energy (gasoline, nat-
ural gas, Bunker "C" oil for electricity, diesel fuel, etc.) that Lee
County uses. It's equal to 75.8 x 10 kcal; or in barrels of oil,
it 's equal to about 52 million barrels of oil per year. Now consider
the flow labeled Goods and Materials and notice its amount compared to
the direct fuels used by Lee County. This flow is calculated by adding
up all the energies that go into the goods and materials used within
the County, things like cars, furniture, cosmetics, and even clothing
have an energy cost. This flow is nearly equal to that of the direct
energy, So if one wanted to truly conserve energy, conserving energy
in the form of consumable goods is necessary as well.
In the diagram we see that over 75% of the income to Lee County
is derived from tourist expenditures and transfer payments. This money
filters its way through the economy and eventually is used to buy the
things that are imported from other areas. These two sources of money
may be subject to extreme fluctuations in the near future as the national
economy continues to show signs of leveling. Decreases in the number
and expenditures of tourists can be expected since vacations are ex-
pensive items we may soon have to do without, And consider what happens
if the costs of goods continues to rise, and those fixed incomes of
social security and pension funds don1t rise accordingly. A deficit
will result, In other words, less fuels, food, and goods can be bought
for the same income. Lee Countians will have to decrease their standard
The diagram in Figure 3 shows us the workings of the "system;"
or where Lee County gets its money and thus how it buys the energy and
materials necessary for the lifestyles of the people. Some people may
say that they don't work directly in the tourist industry, and therefore
fluctuations in the income from tourist expenditures will have little
effect on their lives. But in reality, all of Lee Countyis very de-
pendent on tourism. Think, for instance, of howone tourist dollar
spent for lodging filters its way thru the economy, The motel operator
may spend this dollar for maintenance materials at the local hardware
store, who in turn pays a part of it to his employee, who in'turn
spends it on a movie, and so on through the economy, paying wages,
and turning over goods from seller to consumer until eventually the
entire dollar is sent out of the county to pay for imported goods and
fuel. The diagram in Figure 4 illustrates this concept,
The income of $684.6 million is obtained by the sale of products,
tourist expenditures, and transfer payments. It flows into the "storage"
of money of Lee County. It then turns over within the economy (the
dashed circle going clockwise within the solid line indicates this)
buying all the goods and services necessary. This turnover is the
gross county product, and is equal to $755,2 million. Everytime the
money goes around inside, a little bit is sent out to buy goods and
fuelsthat are consumed within, Eventually all the income is spent to
- - -
an\4 .-Ir4v Flows by Source.
FIG. 4. A Model of the Main Features of Lee County
Summarized from Fig. 4. The economic vitality
is generated by the interplay of assets with
energy sources and the circulation of money
in part of the system.
The imported goods and fuels are represented by the solid-line
coming into the county from the circle labeled "Purchased goods, ser-
vices, and fuels." They have some work done on them. This is repre-
sented by the pointed block with the "X" inside (or multiplier). This
work is the transportation, processing, and energy costs of advertising
and selling the products. From there they flow into the large storage
labeled "assets." Things like furniture, cars, and nondurable goods all
are added to the assets of the county until they either depreciate
(indicated by the flow out the bottom of the assets storage) or are
used to obtain more goods and fuels (indicated by the solid line that
flows to the left from the assets tank back to the multiplier). Some
is exported in return for which Lee County receives a dollar payment.
(indicated by the flow up and to the right to the circle labeled Income).
So we see from this diagram and the proceeding one how dependent
on energy we really are, and further we see that, in Lee County's par-
ticular case, the input of 75% of the needed materials and energies is
being paid for from twb sources that are vulnerable to shifts in na-
tional economic stability. Agricultural, industrial, and fishery sales,
three sources of income that are somewhat dependable, amount to only
20% of the total dollar income, and thus help to buy only 20% of the
total energy used by Lee County,
Computer Simulation Model
A model of Lee County's main features was conceptualized and is
shown in Figure 5, A model of a system such as the one in Figure 5 is
believed to contain all the major features and interactions within the
economy and thus is helpful in visualizing how the system works.
Fig. 5. Simulation Model of Lee County showing major compartments
and interacting fliw' of -ren-les (1973). See Table A-1 for sources and
A computer simulation of the county model was made to predict
future alternatives under two energy input conditions representing
possible external energy availabilities, The first was for declining
energy availability and the second for level energy (or a constant
source of) input. The model contains the major components of natural,
agricultural, and urban developed land; each with structure components
and the lines or flows of interaction between the contributions that
the natural systems make to attract fossil fuel energies, and the ac-
tion of regional image in attracting tourists and new residents are the
overall constraints on growth of the system. The storage labeled
"Government" is the government structure (buildings, machines, and
control facilities) that act as regulators and "pumps" on overall
stability and growth of the system.
In general, the results show curves (Figures 6 and 7) with rapid
growth,and then leveling and steady state because exprenal flows of
needed materials and energies are finite and become limiting. As the
city grows, land is transferred from the natural sector to urban and
agricultural uses and, as a result, the natural productivity decreases
to such a point that it no longer can provide the needed support re-
quired for stability of the urban system. This trend supports a con-
cept that is now gaining considerable public attention that there is
an optimum amount of development in any region that will maximize the
total value of the region.
Image is a particularly sensitive component in this system for it
controls the flows of people into and out of the region. In this model
image is generated in proportion to interaction (product of assets of
nature), As the image grows from 1940 to 1980, more and more people
o o / 0 Fossil Fuels
. X x *--Ag. Structure S?
Sc ro 0 -People PI
City Structure S3
S2 S3 .EE Cl
1900 1940 1980 2020 2060 2100
I---Natural Land L(
lo Ag. Land L 2
\"" ..---Image I1
Ai 1., -City Land L3
Figure 6. Simulation results of decreasing fossil fuel input.
1900 1940 1980 2020 2060 2100
-Ag. Structure S2
"City Structure S,
-Ag. Land L2
-Natural Land LI
City Land L3
Figure 7. Simulation results of leveled input of fossil fuels with
added growth of urban structure.
are "pumped" into the area until the system starts reversing. Image
then drops off very quickly for it is relying on the work done by the
urban sector and there remains little natural productivity to support
it. As the image declines and other regions' images remain (or become)
higher, people begin an out migration and new tourist/residents search
out other regions adding to the continued decline of the area.
Particular consequences can be drawn from the results as common
sense explanations of the output, but the general trends obtained are
supported by previous models of man and nature (see Forrester, 1969;
Meadow, et al., 1972; and Odum, 1971). The trend indicates that there
is a maximum development of the region under all external energy con-
ditions availabilitiess) and that further development produces a down-
ward trend in the quality of the overall system of man and nature.
The maximum development, or carrying capacity, is different under both
conditions depending on the amount of fossil fuels available to support
man and provide the needed technologies as his numbers become more dense.
A diagram of the external energy sources of Lee County and the ac-
companying money exchanges is given in Figure 8c. The solid lines in
the diagram are the flows of goods and energies, all expressed in fossil
fuel equivalents that cross Lee County's boundaries. This method of
accounting is used to express the energy budget requirements of a re-
gion to maintain productivity. It also enables us to better understand
and quantify the "free work of nature,"
In many cases, this free work goes unnoticed, and unused by man;
but as the costs of fossil fuels continue to increase, more and more
emphasis will be placed on its effective utilization. Air conditioning may
give way to natural ventilation, domestic hot water and space heating
may utilize solar energies, and agricultural practices may use-less
fossil fuel energy for maintaining productivities. One method of
expressing the relative energy into a region is with a ratio of the
fossil fuel energy input to resident natural energy flow, In Lee
County, the fossil fuel energies are 26.0 x 1012 kcal/yr, while the
natural energy in is equal to 13,73 x 1012 kcal FFE/yr or a ratio
This investment ratio expresses the level of subsidy a region adds
to its natural energies to do the work of producing goods and services.
Figure 8 compares the "investment ratio" for the United States (Figure 8a),
the south Florida region as a whole (Figure 8b), and Lee County (Figure
8c). Lee County still has a lower investment ratio than the national
average, With lower ratios the level of natural subsidy is higher.
Should the availabilities of energy change, "standard of living" will
not be reduced as much as other areas, for the region has more natural
energies to help offset decreases in fossil fuel with rising prices.
Regions with higher ratios, reflecting higher subsidy, (Dade County
has a ratio of 53:1) may suffer sharper reductions in "standard of
living" should energy supplies continue to be limited.
To offset dislocation, and reductions in standard of living, re-
gions with high ratios should seek ways of lowering the fossil fuel
subsidy by making more efficient use of free natural energies. Continued
growth of population and urban densities only aggravate conditions, since
energy expenditure per capital increases as densities rise,
Increased densities, while lowering transportation costs, require
higher subsidy in maintenance and control of the overall system. More
energy per capital must be utilized for fire and police protection, general
7~sisd Aa~ ~Y
* ~ z. ~
Estimation of Carrying Capacity:
Resident Energy x Investment Ratio
(13.7x1012) (2.5) = 34.25xl012 kcal
% Increase over Present Value
= 32% .
FIG. 8.- Investment Ratios for (a) United States
(b) South Florida
(c) Lee County
community services, solid waste removal and sewage treatment, as well
as entertainment and escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Regions might insure long term economic vitality and high quality of
life by increasing local industrial bases that use local resources,
stimulating local agricultural productivity without increasing mecha-
nization and fertilization, decreasing dependence on imports of goods
and relying on locally produced items, and relying on the free, re-
newable energies of the sun and winds for "conditioning" of interior
environments, as well as decreasing intercity transportation costs by
decentralization of commercial sectors.
The carrying capacity for best economic development may be esti-
mated for the level of fuels now available by multiplying resident
energy flows by the investment ratio of 2.5. The calculations in Fig-
ure 8 show that it may be feasible for Lee County to attract a 55% in-
crease in purchased fuels, goods and services. This should not be
construed to mean that the county may increase the present population
by 55%, for there is increasing evidence that costs for services and
increasing population densities do not exhibit a linear relationship.
The energy costs associated with increasing population densities may
increase by some greater function, so that a 50% increase in population
may require a 75% increase in fuel consumption to provide necessary
services, It is also important to note that if per capital consumption
of fuels, goods and services continues to increase; population in-
creases should be even less. The carrying capacity for best economic
development indicates the level of purchased energies that may be at-
tracted, and the region maintain competitive position, Growth of the
region then should be a balanced and diversified pattern of industry,
agriculture and population.
Water is one of the most important energies that impinges
on Lee County. The maintenance of high quality water for consumption
by populations is becoming increasingly difficult as aquifers are
depleted by overpumpage and saline waters are drawn in from the Gulf.
Currently, Lee County uses approximately 24 million gallons
of water per day for commercial, industrial and residential uses.
An additional 44 million gallons per day during the growing seasons are
used by agriculture from aquifers that are not suitable for consumption
by populations. Much of the residential, commercial and industrial
water used is pumped from the upper Hawthorn aquifer- It has been calculated
recently from well records that this aquifer is experiencing in places
a draw down of 5 feet per year. The city of Ft. Myers has abandoned the
use of deep aquifer waters in favor of using water from the Caloosahatchee
River, sprayed over the well field, allowed to percolate through the
soils for cleansing and then pumped up again and treated for use.
Sanibel Island now uses 1.25 million gallons of water per day provided
from desalination of brackish water. With increased population growth
the ability to provide fresh water for residential, commercial and
industrial use will become increasingly more energy expensive.
Desalination of brackish waters is extremely energy intensive requiring
11.7 Kwh of electricity for every 1000 gallons produced. The equivalent
amount of electricity required to build and maintain the plant increases
this to 20 Kwh for every 1,000 gallons for the life of the plant.
Proper management of the present system may help to
alleviate the necessity for energy intensive water supply systems.
Water conservation programs could be initiated and alternate uses of
existing sources could be investigated; for instance, it has been
estimated that roughly 50% of the present public supply needs "runsoff"
the lands through canals and ditches. While this may not have a high
enough quality for drinking water it could serve as recharge potential
and irrigation for lawns and agriculture.
An important factor and strongly related to this problem, is the
proper management of surface waters and shallow "water table" aquifer.
Inspection of the land use maps for the primitive and present conditions
reveals the extent of drainage that has occurred throughout the county.
In the primitive condition, as discussed earlier, the wet season rains
at times unindated portions of the land area of the county, and slowly
receded as the network of marshes and sloughs passed excess water to the
estuaries. As development occurred throughout the county, a network of
major canals and secondary ditches were constructed to prevent periodic
flooding. The construction of these canals was done by property owners
to prevent flooding of their lands. The hydrologic nature of the
surface aquifer however "knows no boundary;" so drainage of one area
affects surrounding areas as well. There has been little research to
date on the extent of drainage in lands adjacent to canals, and the
extent depends greatly on the type of soils present; however, preliminary
calculations indicate that water table drawdown can extend as much as a
mile to either side of a canal in adjacent lands.
The drawdown of the water table has adverse effects on natural
vegetation, increases costs for irrigation in pasture lands, requires
irrigation in vegetable and fruit lands and creates hotter microclimates.
The wet season rains are shunted off effectively, but during the long
dry season the "storage" of water in the shallow aquifer is drained off
as well. Natural vegetation that depends on high water tables such as
cypress and marsh systems show decreased productivity by as much as 40%
when drained. Over a period of years this may lead to their elimination
from the landscape as frequency of fire increases and conditions change
to a dryer environment where species that are adapted to dryer conditions
Pasture lands and vegetable farms benefit form having high water
tables as the costs for irrigation are kept at a minimum; however,
unindation, especially of vegetable farms cannot be tolerated. Pasture
land can sustain short periods of flooding without great adverse effects.
In these cases then, the maintenance of higher water-tables could
accrue an advantage to man as some costs could be reduced.
The micro climate of developed areas is affected greatly by the
vegetation surrounding structures. Current research indicates that the
"energetic value" of one cypress tree in cooling the micro climate by
transpiration (the process of water evaporation from leaves) is
equivalent to 6 room air conditioners. With lowered water tables,
transpiration is reduced, and thus microclimates are hotter. It is
adventageous then, to leave as much of the natural vegetation as possible
in developed areas, and to maintain high ground water levels for efficient
heat removal through transpiration as well.
The following section outlines a simulation of the water budget of
Lee County with data now available. Much detailed field work is needed
to provide the necessary data that would make simulations of this nature
Figure 9 is a pictorial diagram of the hydrologic cycle. It
shows there are three main sources of water to Lee County. The first
and most prominent is rainfall; it falls on the lands after being
evaporated from the gulf, and surface waters of the lands, South
Florida has a wet and dry season so that the rainfall is not evenly
distributed throughout the year, The wet season extends from May to
October, and in those 6 months, 75 %, or about 40 inches out of the
total 53" will fall in the average year, There also seems to be a
pattern to the wet seasons as well,., with about every 7 seasons
wetter than the average. So the pattern suggests 3 -or 4 years of
drier seasons, and 3 or 4 years of wetter seasons.
The second source of water to Lee County is surface flow, the most
prominent of which is the Caloosahatchee River. But there is also sur-
face water runoff during the wet seasons from Charlotte and Hendry
Counties. The Caloosahatchee River originates at Lake Okeechobee where
its flow is controlled by the Central and Southern Flood Control District.
The amount of water in Lake Okeechobee is controlled so that during times
of high water inflow (wet season) the gate to the Caloosahatchee River
is opened wider than usual to help keep the lake at the proper stage.
During the dry season, it is important to maintain as much water storage
as possible within the lake, so the flow into the Caloosahatchee River
is reduced. So Lee County receives plenty of water thru the Caloosahatchee
River during the wet season, and little during the dry. Instead of
helping the water situation, this pattern of river flow aggravates the
condition by adding additional surface waters during peak rainy months
helping to cause flooding in areas immediately adjacent to the river.
And during the dry season, there is little flow and thus little available
Missing Page 24
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water to help recharge low groundwater tables,
The third inflow of water comes deep in the ground. Little is
known about the deep aquifers, There is some spotty data on their
thickness, and how much water they hold, but this could vary consi-
derably over the entire area of the county, The cross section in
Figure 10 indicates what some good estimates of the thickness of
each aquifer is, and its placement. Water in the aquifer flows from
places where there is high pressure to areas of low pressure, and is
recharged into the aquifer where it is close to the surface.
The Upper Hawthorne aquifer is the major source of potable water
for Lee County. It is a layer of porus sand limestone sandwiched between two
layers of impervious, or nearly impervious clay, The water is re-
charged into the aquifer in the northern part of the state and flows
south. There is little recharge of the Hawthorne aquifer in Lee
County because of the depth of the aquifer, and the impervious layer
that lies between it and the ground surface.
Excessive pumping of the aquifer can create a cone of depression,
or a low pressure area. If the pressure gets too low saltwater, which
is below the aquifer, and has a pressure, begins to move upward, and
inward from the gulf. Continued pumping at the same spot will even-
tually contaminate the aquifer at that point. The well must then be
moved further inland where there is no "saltwater intrusion." But
again if the pumping rate is too high, eventually the new well will
become salty as well.
For the purposes of visualizing the hydrologic system it can be
divided into 3 storage of water, each with inflows dnd outflows (Fig. 11). T
first is the surface water storage whose inflows are rain, and overland
Geologic column showing lithology, aquifers, and typical gamma
formations underlying McGregor Isle.
.'5 - ..... .- i / ( J. / u /
'tbA('JM 0 /4.-- c (
( S7 5 r ;. / . u
r /, I
k / I .'. t /' I "
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ray log of
flow, This storage contains all the water that is above the ground
surface, Included in it is the Caloosahatchee River, water in cypress
swamps, marshes and ponds, and the water that periodically floods the
normally dry lands as well, The second storage is the shallow ground-
water aquifer, or water table aquifer, Its source or inflow is re-
charge from the surface waters. And the third is the deep aquifers.
Their source or inflow is the rate of flow across the boundary of the
A diagram that depicts the hydrologic system is given in Figure 11
The circles to the left represent sources of inflowihg water; the
lines are flows, and the tank symbol represents a storage of water.
Each storage is a balance between inflows and outflows. Some may be
decreasing because of actions by man such as pumping from deep aqui-
fers, drainage of surface waters from swamps, and drainage of shallow
aquifer by channelization.
The model in Figure 12 is an elaboration of the previous model
for the purposes of simulation on a computer. Simulation helps to
perceive the changes throughout the entire system over time. Different
conditions can be assumed, such as increased pumpage for public supply,
decreased recharge, increased runoff etc. and the model can then be
simulated to understand the effects of such actions. The graphs given
in Figures 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16 are the results of the analog
simulation of the model.
The analog model was used to develop insight into the effects
of water management schemes, For example, impoundment of surplus water
from the Caloosahatchee River for later release and recharge of the
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Precipitation,(a) evapotranspiration,(b) and water usage,(c)
as simulated by the analog computer, showing wet and dry
seasons and water use by man as being out of phase.
(a) Water on pervious land
(b) Water on less pervious land
- ^^*%%2^ ^ N
figure 13, Results of analog simulation of water storage on land
areas, showing the rise and fall of surface water within
the wet and dry seasons,
(b) Increased 20%
(c) Increased 40%
Results of analog simulation of water storage in river area
showing the present fluctuatios(ia) and an increase of ri-
ver height of 20%(b) and 40% c with different regulation
Surface water availability
(a) Present level .
Ground water recharge -
(a) Present pumpage and recharge level --
(b) Present pumpage plus 20% recharge increased -
(c) 50% pumpage increased plus 40% recharge increased -
Results of analog simulation of water storage in shallow
aquifer showing the present decrease in aquifer height (a)
and increases in recharge rates of 20%(b) and 40%(c) with
their corresponding decreases in depletion of the aquifer.
Around water discharge
(a) Present pumpage and discharge level
(b) Present pumpage plus 20% seepage loss
(c) 50% pumpage increased plus 40% upward leakage
1 2 3 4 5
Results of analog simulation of water storage in deep
aquifer hg wing the present trend of depletion of this
aquifer, a the present condition with a 20% seepage loss,
and an increase of 50% pumpage(c).
groundwater when needed may be one of the possibilities that Lee
County will benefit from, Different levels in surface water avail-
ability were simulated and are displayed in Figure 14. With these
increases of 20% and 40% of surface water, respectively, the corres-
ponding water level fluctuations in the shallow aquifer are shown in
Figure 15. The water level declines about 6 cm per year with 20% re-
charge increase comparing with 15 cm per year at the present level;
with a 40% increase in recharge the water level shows a more stable
behavior even through pumpage has increased by 50%.
The direct outflow of groundwater may not be a major factor in Lee
County, of more significance to the county is seepage out of the ground
into lakes and streams. As channelization and drainage continues, this
becomes even greater significance and through channelization, the
groundwater becomes surface water and is contributed directly to runoff.
It is simulated by 20% increase in groundwater discharge in conjunction
with a 20% increase in runoff, The graph in Figure 16 shows that
the declining rate of piezometric head is increased from about 30 cm to
60 cm per year. With increased drainage, moreover, the problem of sal-
ine water movement into shallow aquifer by upward leakage into deep
aquifer is of considerable magnitude in Lee County. As the head in the
aquifers are lowered by pumping and drainage canals, the quantity of
saltwater discharged into the aquifers will increase. This phenomenon
has been simulated by assuming a 40% increase in groundwater loss with
a 50% increase in pumpage and a 20% increase in runoff, The piezometric
head is declining at the rate of about 100 cm per year as displayed in
These simulations are approximations at best. More accurate data
is needed to more accurately depict the water budget of the county,
however, trends can be drawn from the simulations. At current rates
of pumping and runoff through canals, Lee County is losing water from
storage. By increasing the recharge rate (this can be accomplished by
retaining wet season rains on the land rather than allowing them to
run off quickly to the Gulf) the storage does not decline as quickly
and could even be maintained at a steady state if pumpage were balanced
The uses of land are strongly related to the quantities and
qualities of both water and energy available to Lee County. To maintain
sufficient high quality water for instance, it was suggested that water
tables be restored to or nearly to the primitive condition. This will
change the uses that some lands may have had. If energies continue to
decline in their availability, and costs continue to climb, different
organizations of development could occur with high density clusters of
development giving way to more spread out, less dense arrays of
populations utilizing the abundant free energies of nature
The lands of a region, and their use represent the consumption of
a finite resource. If the region chooses to use them in such a manner
as to destroy their value for food and fiber production, less overall
value in the long run could be the result, for in the process, the region
will increasingly depend on outside sources for needed materials,
energies and foods. On the other hand, the region may wish to maintain
this finite resource, by protecting it from over exploitation. Programs
for water management, soil protection and development of less sensitive
areas then become a necessary part of the planning process.
In this next section we outline recommendations for the best use
of the land for Lee County. The use of the land is so tightly interwoven
with energy and water use that we cannot give suggestions for one without
Restore natural groundwater levels in drained areas throughout the
county by dechannelizing. Filling of some present channelizations should
be done so they serve no drainage role with ordinary wet season rains.
Areas within existing development should reevaluate their drainage
patterns as to the necessity for continuing groundwater drawdown of 6
and 8 feet. With minor alterations of existing systems the groundwater
levels might be raised for better water retention and the systems still
function as fast discharge during exceptional rains. New developments
should explore the use of swales or spreader waterways, interceptor
waterways, and the combined use of vegetation management of canals and
other control measures to insure retention of groundwater levels (Fig 17).
Marshes and Cypress as Flood Control
The concept of using existing flood plains, marshes and cypress
swamps as flood control mechanisms and water resource unit for man should
be further tested (Figs. 18 & 19). The possibility that these wetlands
could be used for water table control, water conservation to provide
natural buffers and scenic easements and possibly for tertiary treatment
of sewage may require a reversal of the present trend to drain and
develop them. During wet periods they serve as receiving areas for
lateral and sheet flow of excess water, rechargers for groundwater
aquifers and filters for valuable nutrients. During dry periods the
productivity goes down (cypress drop all their leaves) and the short
water supply is protected by very low evapotranspiration rates. Their
incorporation into development planning may not require lower population
densities and lower economic dividends and when calculated against their
associated value as buffers and water control devices, a long-run
savings may result because of increased productivity of the overall
system of amn and nature. A moratorium may be needed for any further
drainage of these systems.
Water movement is toward the south.
during rainy season water fills
marshes and ponds, First, excess
is passed to the slough, then slow
passed downstream, and eventually
to the Gulf.
A. IL -
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Ly season, rain is
quickly, areas of
mention are gone, in-
Loff from houses and
uses increased volume
els, and downstream
Plan for natural retention of
normal rains in marshes and ponds,
with vegetation for nutrient re-
moval and hydrolic head to slow
runoff. Giving in addition
Figure 17. Schematic of alternative development that utilizes
existing natural systems with minor alteration for flood control.
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Figure 18. Schematic diagrams of water levels for the original
and present conditions with future alternative of intermediate
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Figure 19. Schematic plan for diversified development, of five different
housing types and commercial area. Wetlands are undisturbed with inter-
connecting swal.es: that serve as commons area and runoff control. Devel-
opment is In-orp)r e? into overall region as a selfsustaining unit of
1 1 ,
Wetlands as Water Retention Areas
Portions of the county may serve as water retention areas. Instead
of channelization and shunting valuable water to the Bay and Gulf,
areas within the county (Corkscrew, Six Mile Cypress, and others) could
be set aside as water retention areas. Forested retention ponds
(wetlands) reduce surface evaporation by shading in dry season and could
filter nutrients rather than allowing them to flow quickly to the bays
and streams causing heavy nutrient loads that may result in eutrophication
of these systems. A hydrological study group should be established to
evaluate Lee County's water situation and recommend alternatives.
Restoration of Natural Vegetation
The feasibility of restoring natural vegetation to areas that have
been scraped in preparation for development, and the possibility of
letting vegetation regulate the slope of water in drainage canals should
be studied. Indigenoud vegetation may serve as soil retainers against
wind and water erosion, as means of increasing friction to slow down
runoff and recharge shallow aquifers, as aids to man's systems by
providing a cooler microclimate, and as productive "support systems' for
man, instead of remaining barren for many years waiting for development.
Mangroves as Natural Buffers and Bulkheads
The restoration of shoreline mangrove systems should be considered
in those areas where they have been removed. Any further development
should be discouraged, and the incorporation of these natural groundwater
filters and storm erosion protectors into the overall planning scheme
should be encouraged. Mangrove lines estuaries are often described as
the nursery grounds for many species that later migrate out to open
waters as part of the basis for the large commercial and sport fishing
industry of the area. Further, they serve as natural protectors against
heavy currents and waves during hurricanes that may be cheaper than man-
made bulkheads and seawalls.
Overall Environmental Concern
An overriding concern with the state of the "natural support systems"
of Lee County should be initiated and incorporated in all planning schemes
and decisions. The natural environment not only supports man in a bio-
logical and psychological sense (through release from the complex multi-
sensory urban world) but by economic dividends through the tourist, fishing,
agricultural, and lumber industries as well.
Beach areas and the back beach dunes are a critical part of the
economy; the tourist and retirement populations are heavily oriented
to their use. All development should be aware of the sensitive nature
of beach and dune systems. Attempts to alter the beach line, to change
its shifting pattern and steady sand supply may result in erosion problems
or build up of unwanted beach. The dune areas serve as wave protection
during hurricanes, but are extremely sensitive systems which require special
protection against overuse and destruction.
All wetland systems are apparently very productive systems and, thus,
have large value to man, and in light of their future potential use as
water resource devices, protection against incompatible uses should be
It might be beneficial to establish development regulations that limit
all development to 50% of the land area encompassed, thereby providing
productive readily available "back-up" systems as man's energies change.
Recognize and work towards a leveled or steady state economy. If
there are general shortages of power developing in the United States,
either because fuels are unavailable or because fuels are more expensive
to get, the economy may enter an inflationary state. With fuels costing
more, the amount of work done for each unit of money spent is less,
requiring an increase in costs for goods and services. Then the monies
available to tourism, retirement incomes, and investment will diminish.
If there are national leveling tendencies, they have a sharply amplified
effect on Florida. If development occurs during economically favorable
times, when the costs of goods and services are relatively low, decreased
economic position, when goods and services are more expensive, may make
environmental costs (water, electricity, and sewage systems) too high,
thus lowering the carrying capacity of the region.
By recognizing that leveling is required eventually, the county may
make moves toward insuring economic stability and maintaining a competitive
condition by keeping further growth related to environmental resources,
readjusting densities of present development and redistribution of existing
concentrations of energy utilization. If done before the county is
forced to level by water shortages, fuel shortages, or high population
densities, there is a margin of safety, or buffer, against severe fluctuations
of the county's economy through better use of environmental resources.
As land becomes more scarce and costs per acre continue to rise, there
is the tendency toward high rise development. The resulting high concen-
trations of people, cars, energy use, and environmental loads may make
a less secure economic status, if there is a national recession in fuel
and a resulting economic inflation.
To achieve a leveled or steady state economy there are several
alternative guidelines that could be implemented through existing
1. Provide limits to high power density usages such as high rises,
high density condominium developments and the concentrations of
heavy industry. When energy concepts are applied to the urban
world, we find that high energy concentration results in more energy
loss per unit of work done than do lower concentrations.
2. Maximize diversity of the region on the principle that added value
emerges from the interactions of a variety of land use types in the same
area (Fig. 19). Large scale developments done on the mass production
bases should be discouraged since they work against this principle.
Since value or quality of life emerges from having a variety of
human and natural activity available, this principle applies within
any scale system from the variety of activities of a park to the
variety of land use systems of a region.
3. Develop incentive to maintain and improve existing areas of development
through higher taxes on new development, lower taxes on non-developed
lands and extend municipal services to existing systems before newly
4. Require that existing large scale developments maintain more of a
"closed system"' approach to provide the necessary support functions
for their population and further development. This should guarantee
a high diversity of land use types.
5. Establish special incentives for the development of low energy
communities and habitats that maximize the available natural energies
as well as fossil fuel energies through a sympathetic relationship
with the surrounding environment.
The process of planning has as its main goals the enhancement of the
quality of the existing environment. Implicit in this process is the
assumption that the existing environment for man has already a high quality,
and the maintenance and enhancement of that quality is the objective. How-
ever, this quality is measured from the system's standpoint only. In other
words, the measurement for quality is based only on what's good for man's
urban system (and its social, economic, and cultural systems). It then
follows that "what's good for man is good for the entire earth," but the
reverse is actually true -- "what's good for the earth is good for man."
Until recent years man's influence had little effect on the overall
systems of Lee County. Man's numbers and the energy he had at his disposal
were small compared to those of nature. But no more. His population and
the energy at his disposal have now reached such magnitude that very
special attention concerning his impact on the natural systems of Lee
County must be included in any planning methodology.
It's time that man begins to design with nature, rather than in spite
of it. This will require a new philosophy, a new architecture, and, above
all, a new planning methodology. Man's erroneous philosophy that he and
he alone controls his destiny will have to be re-examined, for he will
have to recognize that his outside energy factors require that he contin-
ually adapt his culture to them and not the reverse. His architecture
must change: no longer can his architectural form reflect an expanding
fossil fuel energy base and be energy wasteful, but it must instead
reflect and effectively maximize the inputs of both types of energy
sources, the natural energies as well as fossil fuels. Present planning
methodologies will have to be altered. Planning and developmental
strategies in the past have not been responsive to the natural environment
and its contribution to the man-made world, except from a very limited
viewpoint where aesthetic and recreational values (with their associated
economic dividends) have been sufficient to justify preservation of
General System Understanding
Man's urban world is the most complex collection of components known.
It could be described as a gigantic web of interactions, so many and so
complex that understanding is nearly impossible. However, to design and
plan for it requires understanding; as in anything, an understanding of
the system at hand is a prerequisite to any sort of tinkering if real
progress toward a solution of its ills is desired.
But our cities are not understandable using current approaches to
planning design. Our present methods have taken a trial and error
approach, leaving us with more errors than solutions. How then can this
One approach that sheds some light on the complex problems we face
is the General System Theory. Here we assume, rather than each component
and its interaction with any given system be a special case unlike any
other, it adheres to some basic principles that are true for all systems.
And we look to those systems that have permanence on their side for
guidelines as to what these principles might be. This then allows for
simplification of the complexity of the system and provides one with
tried and tested principles of operation. We gain insight as to the
operation of the system at hand.
An Energy Basis for Life
Energy is the driving force of all life. Just as the plant commu-
nity requires sunlight for continued existence, so do man's more complex
communities of industry and commerce require an uninterrupted flow of
energy. The amount and concentration of energy to any process determines
the spatial size, the form and the complexity of the processing system.
Think for instance of a windmill and an electric motor.
Both are systems set up to process energy into a similar
function, that of rotation of a shaft to perform some useful
work. However, their energy sources are of two different
concentrations -- electric energy, a concentrated form of
power, and wind energy, a more dilute form...therefore, a
'corresponding difference in size and complexity is expected.
The windmill is much larger and with fewer and less complex
pieces than the electric motor. Its energy source is dilute,
requiring its mechanism which catches and processes that
energy to be large. -
The type and concentration of the energy available to any system
dictates the size, form, and complexity of that system.
Change the energy input to a system and if it is at all
possible, the system will correspondingly change to process
it. Quite often that change is not to the benefit of the
original system, especially if the energy input change is
too radical. Thank, for instance, of that electric motor,
and set it outside to convert wind energy into rotation.
These concepts cut across all system levels. Whether one speaks of
abstract systems such as governmental, social, or religious bodies as units,
geographical regions as units; urban centers as units; or even individual
biological bodies as units, these concepts are maintained:
FIRST: They are all systems that can be isolated, their energy
inputs, processes, exchanges, and outputs can be diagrammed.
SECOND: The complexity, form, and size of any system is dependent
upon the energy available.
THIRD: Any change in the input energy requires a corresponding
change in the form, complexity, and size of the original
THE LAWS OF ENERGY
Energy is the common denominator, by which we can understand all
systems. Without it, we have no system. Without a driving force to
maintain life, there is no life.
Science, through years of detailed microscopic and dissectual
investigation of the "parts" has provided us with two laws of energy, by
which all energy users behave. And since all life is an energy user, we
have two laws that all life must adhere to.
The First Law of Thermodynamics
According to the first law of thermodynamics, which is the familiar
law of conservation of energy, energy is neither created nor destroyed
in any process. It is merely transformed from one form to another. If
a system gains or loses energy, then an equal amount of energy must be
transferred in some form to or from the surroundings (it is important to
distinguish between the "system," i.e., the collection of matter under
study, and its "environment" or "surroundings," i.e., the rest of the
universe; during any process, energy may pass from the system to the
surroundings or from the surroundings to the system).
All processes require energy and give off an equal amount of energy
in another form; thus the energy into a system equals the energy out.
The energy in may be used to do some useful work or it may be converted
to structure. In both cases, most of the energy leaves the system as
degraded energy (usually heat). For instance, our urban systems use
fossil fuels; some burnt directly in automobiles, where it is released
in the form of heat; some is converted to electricity, giving off heat
in the process. These energies are used to run machines and provide
light, and in the process all the energy is converted to heat, a lower
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grade energy that is not capable of doing much work. Figure 1 is a simple
example of the process of electricity generation. Three kcals. fossil
fuels are converted into electricity, 2.6 are lost in heat, the .6 k.cal.
coming from the urban structure tank is the indirect energy use of mate-
rials and services. The process yields 1 klcal. of electricity for each
3.6 kcals. consumed. Food and goods are energies as well.
Food and goods are energies as well. Foot is energy to the body
and is converted to heat. Goods are energies (they are made with and
transported with energy) that allow us to consume even more energy.
The first law says that all energy is constant, it can neither be
created nor destroyed. From this, then, we see that pollution in all
its forms is nothing more than energy; too much in the wrong place at
the wrong time. Thermal "pollution" of estuarine bays from power
plants is leftover energy from a. conversion of fossil fuel energy to a
more concentrated form, i.e., electricity. Eutrophication of estuaries
and lakes as the result of human wastes is again the leftover energy
from a conversion of food energy into heat for human maintenance. The
energy used in our urban systems is obtained from the surroundings in a
concentrated form, and is give back, in dilute forms (heat) and concen-
trated forms (human and industrial wastes). But always, the energy of
a system and its surroundings is constant.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics
Any system plus its surroundings tends spontaneously towards a
state of increasing entropy, or disorder. It should be emphasized that
the second law makes no predictions about the system only. It must
include an analysis of the entropy changes in both the system and its
surroundings. All increases in order within any "closed system" must
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be accompanied by a corresponding increase in disorder. The second law
can be thought of as the price one must pay to achieve any useful work in
a process. Disorder is the most likely end to all order. Once an ordered
collection of processes is set up, a continued payment must be made to
maintain that order, for it tends spontaneously toward disorder.
The second law determines the ultimate limit of what we can and can-
not do. It tells us that the maintenance of order in the form of life
must result in an increase in disorder in our surroundings. Further, it
tells us that all increases in order and higher levels of energy and
resource consumption to support that order, will automatically result in
increasing disorder in our surroundings.
According to the first law, the energy of the universe remains con-
stant. However, the second law states that as energy is transformed from
one form to another it is degraded into less useful forms and eventually
ends up primarily as heat. Concentrated energy of high quality that has
a high capacity to do useful work ends up as dilute energy not capable of
doing the work required of the former. Figure 2 illustrates the first and
second laws as they pertain to the urban system.
A. J. Lotka in 1925 stated a theory that has become a general energy
principle. In essence it indicated that the maximization of power for
useful purposes was the main criterion for a successful system. Systems
are forced by competition from other systems into maximizing all their
work toward gaining more input power and using the power gained to insure
a continued uninterrupted maximum power flow. An important aspect of this
principle, however, is that power is not wasted and no component or inter-
action within the system uses more power than is necessary.
Maximizing power then leads to growth in systems that have an expand-
ing power base. As long as the available energies are greater than the
amounts needed for a particular system's functions, the system continues
to "tack on" components and processes that will guarantee continued input
power flows. As we examine "steady state" ecological systems, or systems
with constant input energies, we see another situation entirely. Those
ecological systems that have attained a steady state (sometimes called a
climax) no longer "tack on" new components and interactions but continue
to maximize power by an experimental anticipatory design sequence. They
are continually trying to do more with less, find better ways of process-
ing energies, becoming more efficient by "fine tuning the system." This
does not mean, however, no growth, or a "static" system but, on the
contrary, continual growth by replacement and an over-riding concern with
Succession vs. Climax
As defined, succession means the act or process of following in order
or sequence. In ecological terms it describes the process by which one
plant community succeeds the former from grasses/bushes to a climax
forest. When an area of land is cleared, new plants begin to colonize.
In this situation (according to Lotka's Principle) the system that survives
maximizes power by building rapid, cheap structures. Little attention is
paid to putting energy into regulation organization or diversity of
structures. In the first stages of succession, the ecological systems are
characterized by sameness (low diversity), very cheap structure, and a
rapid turnover. The idea is to cover the ground and maximize power. As
the system continues through time, more and more energy is diverted from
the job of trapping more energy to the roles of regulation and organization.
The system builds more and bigger structure (with a slower turnover time)
and continues to diversify. Complexity does not develop in the first
stages until all available energies are encompassed.
Once the climax stages have been reached, there is no more "net"
growth. There is a high diversity of structure -- structure itself is
very complex. Much more attention is paid to the quality of the system
components rather than quantity. In climax all available energies have
been tapped; there is no longer an expanding energy budget, and, according
to Lotka's principle, power is not wasted. All energy is used. The
system is efficient -- a cyclical system with constant feedback of
materials and energies. There is not "net growth" but growth by replace-
ment and repair.
It seems appropriate to characterize man's technological urban world
as being in a successional state tending toward climax. Energy has been
on the increase and rapid colonization with cheap structure is apparent.
As these energies become "limiting" or constant, we can assume a climax or
leveling off of growth in favor of a "steady state -- no net growth"
system that puts a premium on quality of environment rather than quantity
Diversity as a Corollary to Stability
Those systems in nature that maintain a high diversity, by that aspect
are more stable. Inherent in diverse systems is the ability to maintain
production during times of stress. Diversity of components and interactions
within allows reprogramming and adjusting to new environmental circumstances.
If one component is lost, there are many to continue.
At first glance, the urban system of man's technological society seems
very diverse in its individual components as well as in its urban subsystems
(a subsystem of the urban system is any of the components, such as-housing
subdivisions, commercial strips along major roads, industrial parks, etc.).
However, when compared to the flows of energy and the number of possible
different subsystems available to man, we thn see that most urban systems
are made up of many reproductions of a few basic types of subsystems, and
nearly all depend on one energy source, fossil fuels.
Diversity is not only a safeguard for stability, but is the major
constituent of the complexity/image/quality of a system. Diversity means
choice in man's world, and choice is the underlying trait to freedom.
Freedom of movement, as well as choice (the higher the number, the higher
the quality) are what gives any urban system its quality. Today planners
speak of quality of life as some magical phenomenon that happens as systems
grow through various stages of development, and they continue to talk as
the quality depreciates, when the system begins to decline in productivity
until it "dies" as many of our urban cores are doing today. The problems
we experience with decay and blight in our urban systems are largely due
to a lack of diversity -- the inability to adjust and reprogram to changing
situations and use patterns. The life goes out of them.
The classical methods of zoning in practice today seem to be anti-
diversity. They seem to be a negative monopolistic tendency that works
against long-term success of the system. Zoning is the intuitive, "easy
way out" solution to the complex interfact of different types of urban
land use. It seems far more exciting/varied/diverse to put as little
restrictions as possible on the use of land in favor of demands for better
design solutions (architecturally) to the interface of different urban
By the same concepts, the large scale housing development (the bed-
room community) that we have inflicted on our landscapes recently, presents
a similar situation. By "developing" large tracts of land and dedicating
them to one particular "life style," one community system, we are in essence
limiting the choice, cutting the diversity of the whole system. The "planned
community" has built in nonadaptability by very strict land use codes and
deed restrictions. The system is self perpetuating by mortgage systems which
require a 20 to 30 year owner occupancy before the structures are even paid
for. But above all, the entire environmental quality of the region is
stressed by the methods of development. The methods employed in many cases
are to first remove all natural vegetation (reducing the natural system
diveristy) and then either mass building hundreds of homes, or waiting
while individual lot owners decide on what type of several "models" they
will choose for their particular site.
It is important to remember that diversity includes natural as well
as urban subsystems. This then increases the interactions (complexity)
of the system, and at the same time the natural areas are available for
natural buffers having high value asessential elements of our life support
system (both biophysically and psychologically).
Common to the study of populations is the term "carrying capacity."
It refers to the capacity of a particular environment to provide life
sustenance for its population (whether furry animal or human animal). In
the study of animal populations, their dynamics and impacts on natural
environments, it is common to observe the growth and leveling characteristics
shown in the graph in Fig. 3.
The population exhibits the familiar Malthusian exponential growth
until the carrying capacity (the resource limit) of the environment is
reached, at which point there is a leveling off and a balance of population
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with environment resources. Most populations have built-in birth control
mechanisms that sense overcrowding conditions and limit populations auto-
matically. However, some don't and under different environmental condi-
tions these built-in sensing mechanisms sometimes seem to break down. In
these particular instances we witness another common phenomenon known as
overshoot and die back. It is not quite clear what happens to cause an
overshoot, but one thing is clear -- the resource limit can only support
a particular population. Anything more than that will cause a die back
until the carrying capacity is reached.
When population dynamics are simulated on the computer some interest-
ing results are obtained. For any given environment and population the
overshoot and die back can be disastrous to the entire population
depending on the degree of overshoot. The faster the population grows
(the steeper the curve) the harder the die back. In some cases known to
ecologists, the population overshoots so far that complete die back is
observed, then a regrowth. The graphs in Fig. 4 illustrate these points.
The carrying capacity of an environment is not a static "level."
Just as one can raise the carrying capacity of an aquarium full of fish
by adding a subsidy of fish food, man can increase the carrying capacity
of his environment with subsidies of fossil fuel technology. All areas
of urban development have successfully done this. As development proceeds
through the years from rural settlement to high energy urban megalopolis,
more refined and complex fossil fuel technological solutions to the
limited carrying capacity are added to sustain each level of human habita-
tion. The "green revolution" in agriculture, tertiary sewage treatment,
solid waste disposal in land fill operations, aquaducts and pipelines for
water, etc., are all examples of increasing the carrying capacity of an
environment through fossil fuel technology.
But there is a limit. The second law of thermodynamics tells us
that there is an ultimate limit to increases in the level of our carrying
capacities. There is a balance in all systems between order and disorder
and as we increase the order in any system we also increase the disorder
in its surroundings. At best, then, we can manage only to stay one or
two steps ahead. With each increase in our level of carrying capacity
(order) we automatically cause more disorder, requiring additional tech-
nology to maintain our particular level.
As long as we can insure our urban areas a continued (ever increasing,
for, remember, we're only managing to stay one step-ahead) flow of fossil
and/or nuclear energy we can maintain present carrying capacities. Should
the availabilities change, we can expect a corresponding change in the
carrying capacity of our environments.
Systems Imbedded within Systems
Systems understanding of any region can only be achieved through an
understanding of the next larger system, and the relationships that exist
between the system under study and the one it is imbedded in.
Isolation of a region by political boundaries as a system is artifi-
cial, at best. City limits, county boundaries, state borders, etc., are
synthetic, arbitrary lines for jurisdictional reasons only; each is imbedded
in the next larger system and will respond to changes in any flows of
materials and energies that cross the boundary from the larger. For this
reason, one must look to the larger system for possible changes that will
affect the performance of the system understudy. At present, then, any
regional analysis must consider the flows of fossil fuels and associated
materials that corss the region's boundaries, and the possible consequences
of changes in their availability. Consider then:
The Concept of Net Energy
The true value of energy to society is the net energy, or the amount
remaining after the energy costs of getting and concentrating that energy
Many forms of energy that we use to power our urban technological
systems are low grade and must be cncentrated. Much energy has to be
used directly and indirectly to support the machines, people, transpor-
tation systems, etc., to deliver the energy. When supplies were plentiful,
the ratio of yield energy to input energy was high, but as we have to dig
deeper and go farther to sea for oil, extract it from rocks, etc., this
ratio gets smaller. Preliminary calculations show that oil from platforms
at sea has a yield ratio of 20 to 1 at the well head, where older wells on
the mainland had yields of better than 200 to 1. The platform yield does
not include concentration and transportation costs to the site of end use,
which might reduce this ratio to 10 to 1. The smaller the net energy
yield to society, the less growth can be sustained, and only maintenance
and replacement of existing structure is soon possible.
In another form, the concept of net energy can be used to evaluate
proposed alternative energy savers as well. For instance, many cities are
proposing rapid transit systems as alternative ways to save energy. These
should be evaluated from the standpoint of energy input versus the energy
saving. When the energy costs of construction, operation, and the
additional costs of concentrating society (rapid transit systems depend
on a concentrated population for their survival) are summed and compared
to energy use by conventional means of transportation (including the
costs of cleaning the environment of pollutants) the energy savings are
small and in some cases nonexistent.
Proposed public projects of all kinds should be evaluated from an
energy cost benefit point of view. The energy costs and benefits to
society must be scrutinized carefully. As fuels become more limiting;
we can no longer afford to be energy wasteful.
In the proceeding section we have identified the concepts and sys-
tems principles that we feel are the most important operational factors
to be considered if one is truly to devise a "new planning methodology."
In summary, let us reflect and put into perspective the meaning these
concepts have to the overall problem.
With any given energy input, whether it be sunlight, tide action,
dollars, fossil fuels, or the energy of a population of biological units,
there is a maximum size, an optimum form, and an optimum complexity that
the system developed to process that energy can obtain. Thus, if the
energy increases, such as the driving energies of fossil fuels have for
the man-made systems of our globe, then change is constant; continually
developing new form, altering size, and increasing complexity to match
the increasing energy budget. The man-made systems of our globe are
attached to very concentrated forms of energy (fossil fuels) and as such
have very complex structures, very complex forms, and are capable of
processing extreme amounts of energy with very small, but complex units.
These concentrated energies, in the past, have been on the increase,
causing our man-made systems to exhibit a corresponding growth. As long
as there is available (excess) energy, mechanisms will be evolved/developed
attached to use it. Once a ceiling for that energy has been established,
in other words, as soon as the energy source is no longer "unlimited," but
"limited" then and only then will the growth be slowed down or altered.
One either waits for the source to "limit" itself (become more scarce)
or sets "limits" as a safe-guard against uncontrolled growth. Either
way, change of growth (direction) of a system is accomplished much faster
and at less energetic cost by altering the input energies.
With this in mind, to establish control or outside influence upon
a system other than the controls the system has for internal stability,
one must first consider having control of the outside energies that
provide sustenance to that system. In other words, it seems unlikely to
achieve "wholesome and controlled growth" in any system without first a
willingness to set a limit to input energies.
Energy Systems, Growth and Natural Selection
But what is wholesome and controlled growth? As we've mentioned
before, any system with increasing input energies will continue to grow
until the amount of structure and its associated work process matches
the energy input, at which point it will level off and achieve a steady
state (providing the input energies remain constant). Thus, we can say
that the system has no say as to growth or no growth unless it under-
stands the influences of available energy on its processes. Man, as the
earth's information bearer and thinker, is capable of this understanding.
Man attaches value to all things -- to material things, to philo-
sophical and spiritual concepts, and to his own acts -- thus by observa-
tion evaluates all things as to their desirability or undesirability in
relation to his wants and needs. Man has a measuring technique or yard-
stick by which he calculates this "goodness." Until now his yardstick
included the concept of self first and all else after. Therefore, he was
unable to measure anything in a comprehensive way that was for the good
of the entire system of earth. Until very recently, collective man
assumed the position of supreme master of the globe and that he could
steer it in any direction desired. He is now learning that the reverse
is true; that he is a passenger, maybe only a custodian in charge of
information and programming and that in reality he can only adjust his
system to the demands of the much larger systems of earth.
Wholesome and controlled growth, then, not only should be evaluated
from man's position, but in relation to the larger "support systems" of
his world. For the larger system of earth is the final selector and
measure, selecting those systems that work for the benefit of the entire
globe. If he belabors the point and continues to adjust only to his wants
and needs, he'll be selected against and other systems that are more
responsive to the energetic needs and wants of the earth will be chosen.
So wholesome and controlled growth in man's systems is growth that
adjusts to the overall systems of earth and that is cognizant of the
relationship between the environmental systems of a region and the amounts
and complexity of man's.systems sustained by it.
The implications of energy availability on the urban segment of the
"overall system of man and nature" are becoming more apparent as world-
wide shortages, embargos, and demands come and go. It is becoming more
and more apparent that the high-energy urban technological system will be
required to change its utilization of energy, as these concentrated e
energies become even more erratic as availabilities fluctuate. Complete
dependence on energies that may or may not be available in sufficient
quantities may not be advantageous to a healthy economic position. But
an urban pattern that reverses current trends of expanded energy utiliza-
tion toward a steady state no growth system of management and capitalizes
on "free natural energies" available may retain and complement current
economic position by increasing competitive stance. To reverse current
trends and design new form for the urban system requires a new method
of urban design and analysis; one that recognizes the relationships
between energy and form, as well as the relationship of energy utiliza-
tion and the "carrying capacity" of environments to sustain any level
of human habitation.
The following sections outline one such approach. An approach that
utilizes systems diagrams for overall system understanding, a subsystem
classification scheme for understanding component parts of the "overall
system of man and nature" and their interactions, and evaluation tech-
niques that provide insight into values derived from the maximization
of combinations of man and nature into the urban system.