Title: The Future of Water Control in Florida
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 Material Information
Title: The Future of Water Control in Florida
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publisher: Fla Engineering and Industrial Experiment Station
 Subjects
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
 Notes
Abstract: Richard Hamann's Collection - The Future of Water Control in Florida
General Note: Box 12, Folder 1 ( Materials and Reports on Florida's Water Resources - 1945 - 1957 ), Item 22
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
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Bibliographic ID: WL00002908
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Holding Location: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text






The Future ol


by

A. G. MATTHEWS*


The importance of water to human life can be
phrased in four words: no water, no people. This
statement means that the future development and pros-
perity of Florida depend most heavily on the conserva-
tion and proper use of our water resources. There are
many and difficult problems to be solved to insure
these two provisions for the future. The basic elements
of these problems and the engineering concepts in-
volved in their solutions are summarized below.
Water AND People
It takes people to make a water problem. It is
true that such things as our tremendous seacoast, our
many streams and lakes, our extremely variable rain-
falls, our flat slopes and low-lying lands, and our under-
ground reservoirs, are important elements in Florida's
water problems. But without people, there are no
water problems.
Population Increase
Conversely it follows that the greater the popula-
tion, the greater the water problems become. As the
population increases in an area, the water problems
grow in number, magnitude and importance. For
example a city of 100,000 people will use much more
than 10 times the amount of water consumed by a town
one-tenth that size.
Three Requisites
Reduced to its simplest terms above, a water prob-
lem was stated to involve water and people. In similar
reduction the essentials to solving a water-people
problem are time, money and skill. Of these three
requisites, the first two are paramount for neither
time nor money are exchangeable, but skills can be
obtained if funds are available.
Five Steps in Solution
If proper amounts of time, money and skills are
available, solution to a water-people problem can be
divided into five general steps. These are listed in re-
verse sequence of time, each step being based on the
next one below. Reasoning back from result to cause,
these steps are:
5. Operation. The end result desired is the long
continued beneficial operation (including main-
tenance and repair) of a structure, or group of
structures, to provide the needed services.

*Chief Engineer, Division of Water Survey & Research, State
of Florida, Tallahassee.


4. Construction. Before such operation is pos-
sible, the structures included must be built.
3. Design. Construction drawings and designs are
necessary before undertaking construction.
2. Studies. These designs and drawings must be
based on thorough studies of all pertinent facts.
1. Data Collection. These pertinent facts must
be observed, recorded, collected and correlated.
These operations constitute the first step upon
which all else depends.
Importance of Data
The information needed consists of all physical and
economic facts bearing on the problem and its solution.
If these facts are incomplete or incorrect, the structures
designed on this faulty basis may not only fail to solve
the real problem, but may make the situation worse.
If the physical data are insufficient, the resulting in-
stallation will be unnecessarily expensive, or inade-
quate, or harmful, and possibly even dangerous. If
the economic data are insufficient, the benefits may
be less than the cost of the project. Even worse, a
project actually economically justified if all the facts
were known, may not be built because lack of full
economic information makes it appear too costly for
the benefits to be derived.
Types of Facts
There are voluminous collections of data which the
engineer must have for the study of solutions to water-
people problems. They deal with two general types
of facts: stable and variable.
Stable Facts. Stable facts are those which remain
substantially unchanged over long periods, such
as the shapes and slopes of the land, the locations
and characteristics of the rocks and soils. This
type of fact is of prime importance to planning,
but the collection of information on this group,
while requiring expenditures of time, money and
skills, can usually be accomplished by a single
set of observations for each element involved.
Variable Facts. The variable facts are those which
change widely from day to day and year to year.
Primarily these facts involve the vagaries of wea-
ther and the changing activities of man. These
include among many others such things as rain-
fall, storm effects, erosion and accretion, flood
damages, crop figures, discharges of streams,
springs and wells. Collection of this type of in-


SWater Control in Florida


_I__ _I_










formation requires programs of repeated observa-
tion continued over a long period.
Past Records Vital
The records of the past observations on the variable
facts are vital. They are more important to the en-
gineer than are the records of past court decisions to
an attorney. If the attorney's brief is based on in-
complete knowledge of legal precedents, his client may
at worst lose. But if the engineer's designs are based
on insufficient knowledge of past floods, his structure
may fail and destroy the lives and properties of thou-
sands.
Future Involved
It is emphasized that a structure designed to solve
a water-people problem must be planned to meet, not
past conditions, not present conditions, but future
conditions. Those conditions will be the combined re-
sults of future population and future waters. This
means that designs must be based on predictions.
Prediction Methods
The design problem would be comparatively sim-
ple if the designer could know the precise maximum
quantities which would come and the date on which
they would occur. But neither the vagaries of the
weather nor man's activities can be foreseen with any
degree of exactitude. About the only method the
designer has to guide him to future possibilities is
to study what has happened in the past. In cases where
detailed records of many past years can be discovered
and used, engineering statistical techniques provide
tools for determining the mathematical probabilities
of occurrence. These are "odds," rather than true pre-
dictions, as they bear no calendar dates. Thus, while
a certain flood condition may have a probability of
occurring once in a hundred years, it is perfectly pos-
sible for that flood to occur next year. However these
computed quantities do indicate the probable maxi-
mum conditions and forces to be encountered during
the life of a structure. With these determined, a struc-
ture can be designed adequate to meet these conditions.
Effect of Missing Facts
Unfortunately this technique, the single one avail-
able, can be used in only a few locations in Florida.
In far too many cases in this state there are no records
of sufficient length and accuracy to permit even a
gross approximation of the future probabilities. In
such cases where a project has to be built, regardless
of lack of long term data, the design of the structures
must be such as to meet unforseen conditions. Addi-
tional strength, size, height, and cross-section have to
be provided so as to insure a factor of safety. These
all mean increased costs of construction. Part of this


could have been saved had proper observations been
recorded in the past. These savings would have ex-
ceeded over a hundredfold all the costs of making such
observations and records. Thus we are paying for our
forebears' lack of provision for their descendants.
Observation Program
In areas where the need for immediate solution
of a problem is not so pressing and where proper rec-
ords for designing that solution are lacking, it is
only the prudent course of a responsible people having
a decent respect to the needs and pockets of their
posterity, to set up and maintain proper programs of
observation. Before such programs can be established
a thorough search has to be undertaken, an inventory
made of the available data, a determination made of
what is needed, and then finally the necessary steps
taken to set up and continue uninterrupted observa-
tions to meet these needs.
Water Problems
The foregoing paragraphs deal with matters under-
lying the solutions to any general water problem in
Florida. The uses for which our water resources can
be put, and the specific problems involved are many.
Adequate and cheap supplies of fresh waters are
necessary for all future domestic, municipal, agricul-
tural, and industrial uses. Surface and underground
waters must be preserved from abuse and developed
for use. Floods and droughts must be controlled. Pro-
ductive farm lands and city areas must be drained and
protected from surplus waters. Surface and under-
ground reservoirs must be kept recharged, and streams
and lakes conserved and protected from harmful con-
ditions. Pollution of fresh or salt water by chemical
and biological agents must be minimized. The usable
shores and beaches of our streams, lakes, bays, and
ocean fronts must be protected from damaging erosion
and accretion. The infiltration of salt water into the
soil and fresh ground waters must be prevented. Har-
bors, ports, and channels for navigation, and hydro-
electric power sites, must be developed. Provisions
must also be made for all recreational use of suitable
surface waters and for better habitat conditions for
all varieties of aquatic animal life whether wearing
fur, scales, feathers, or shells.
Effects of Hasty Solutions
An unwise or poorly designed attempt to solve one
of the water-people problems may make many other
problems worse. For example, unwise drainage of
farm lands may easily result in downstream floods, in
denying recharge waters to the underground reser-
voirs, or in destruction of the soil itself by shrinkage
and actual burning. An ungated drainage canal en-


-I-----..- ----









tering the sea may lead to salt water encroaching up
the canal and spoiling both the soil and the fresh
ground water. A navigation channel through the coast-
line may intercept the natural sand supply of an ad-
joining sea beach and thus starve that beach down to
its underlying clay or rock. Overworking an inade-
quate well field may not only deprive all neighboring
wells of water, but may lead to infiltration of salt
water and the consequent spoiling of the entire aqui-
fer. Without citing further examples of possible harm,
or conflicting problems it can be seen that in most
cases the solution to any particular problem must be a
considered compromise. This again points to the
necessity for the collection of complete data on all
physical facts and the careful study of them by skilled
and qualified professionals.
General Magnitude of Task
Some idea of the magnitude of the task of answering
this requirement for collection and careful study of
complete data can be obtained by consideration of a
few sample over-all figures about Florida. Our fresh
water problems involve dealing with at least 45 cubic
miles of rain water which falls annually on the 71
stream basins comprising Florida's 37% million acres.
Additional amounts, of course, come in across the
border from Alabama and Georgia both on the surface
and underground. In addition to the portion of this
rainfall which is carried off to sea by these streams,
a tremendous but unknown and relatively unmeasured
amount of water goes up into the sky by evaporation,
and an unknown quantity percolates into the Florida
aquifers, one of the biggest underground reservoirs
in the world. In dealing with the seaward channels
and ports, and the erosion of our seacoasts, it should
be noted that this state has a general sea coast of 1,197
miles, constituting one-quarter of that of the entire
coastal United States. The detailed tidal shore line
of Florida subject to the rise and fall of tides is over
8,400 miles in length. Thirty-four of Florida's 67
counties contain over 670 miles of erosion-vulnerable
sandy sea beaches.
The tasks of collecting the necessary data and in-
specting conditions on the ground are also complicated
by the distances that have to be traveled to do so. For
example, by road Pensacola is 77 miles closer to San
Antonio, Texas, than it is to Key West. Other road
distances within the state are comparable in degree.
Flood and Drought Control
One of the most important water problems in
Florida is that of controlling floods and droughts and
of draining and protecting the low-lying lands from
such floods without overdrainage. In 1949 before
any large-scale construction was undertaken the aver-


age annual loss from floods in Florida was estimated
to run between $20 million and $35 million. Annual
drought losses have been much more difficult to com-
pute but are conservatively estimated to be at least one-
quarter of those due to floods. Obviously as develop-
ment both of municipal and agricultural lands pro-
ceeds apace with the rapidly increasing population,
and as costs and prices rise materially, these rough esti-
mates must also rise.
Principle Involved
The basic principle guiding the solution of the
state-wide problem of controlling floods and droughts
is obviously that of protecting the usable lands, re-
moving surplus waters from them, and storing those
waters elsewhere for use in time of drought. It is
equally obvious that the solution proposed for any such
problem must be economically feasible, and that we
must be able to finance the construction and operation.
Forces and Funds Available
Application of this principle on a state-wide basis
takes time, money, and skills. The forces and funds
available for the state-wide planning of sol ions to
this problem of controlling floods and droughts are
as follows:
a. For planning and design of Federal structures in
the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control Dis-
trict by the Corps of Engineers-an annual sum of $1,-
000,000 and 180 employees engaged thereon. As will be
noted, later delays in the construction of this project
indicate that the planning forces and funds are not
sufficient even though this project embraces but one-
quarter of the state.
b. For planning flood control projects for the re-
maining three-quarters of the state (and for many
other additional duties not included in this) the Divis-
ion of Water Survey &8 Research of the State Board
of Conservation of Florida-an annual budget of
$45,000 and a force of six employees.
Other Agencies and Tasks
The sample cited deals only with the problem of
controlling floods and droughts. Important as this
problem is, it is but one of many problems water and
water-related resources which have to be solved in
Florida in the near future. In addition to the 24
agencies actually working in the field on these prob-
lems there are approximately another 14 elements of
either the state or the Federal government whose sup-
porting actions are vital to the further progress on
the whole program.
Unsatisfactory Progress
Progress in the solution in these problems in the
past two calendar years can be termed satisfactory only


m -









if we fail to consider the effect of the greatly increasing
population in Florida and if we realize the handicaps
imposed by lack of funds. When all aspects of these
matters are considered, however, the progress made
in the last two years is unsatisfactory in the extreme.
That progress might have been satisfactory in 1940 to
meet the water needs of Florida's population in 1945.
In view of the tremendous increase of population in
this state and the fact that this rate is not only con-
tinuing but apparently increasing, progress on this
program of beneficial development of water resources
is falling further and further behind. In some cases
the deficiencies in supporting funds for these projects
are actually shocking. In all cases lack of either
Federal or state funds or both have materially delayed
reasonable progress.
Lack of Federal Funds
There are over 67 authorized Federal water-using
projects in the state of Florida most of which are in-
complete or not even started due to lack of appro-
priations for construction. Three typical examples are
cited at random from this long -list: Jim Woodruff
Dam, Tampa Bay channels, and the Central and
Southern Florida Flood Control Project. The Jim
Woodruff project at Chattahoochee was first authorized
in 1945. This $46 million project is still not complete
after nine years of inadequate appropriations for con-
struction. The deepening of the present inadequate
channels from the gulf into Tampa Harbor was finally
authorized in 1950, but no funds are as yet available
for this $11 million task. Five years of additional
grounding of vessels on the bars, and of vessels coming
in with half loads in order to avoid such grounding,
have greatly handicapped the further development of
Florida's No. 1 port. The Central and Southern Flor-
ida Flood Control Project was authorized in 1948 and
construction started in the fall of 1949. This project
was originally estimated to take 10 to 15 years in build-
ing and the latest estimates of cost to the Federal gov-
ernment for this project totaled $250 million. The
past six years of Federal appropriations to this project
have totaled $23,024,000. If this project were on a 15-
year completion schedule this six-year Federal appro-
priation should have totaled over $100 million. Un-
less the present average rate of Federal appropriations
is increased in the future, this project will be com-
pleted in 66 years of construction or the year 2016
instead of 1965 as originally planned.
Lacking State Funds
State appropriations for the project last named
above have been more than adequate to meet the
lack of Federal support. There are other cases, how-
ever, where the state appropriations have not been


adequate for the purposes of the state-wide program.
For example, the 1953 Legislature directed the Florida
State Geologist to undertake steps to prevent wastage
of water by unused flowing artesian wells. There are
a great many of these in the state particularly in areas
where logging operations have ceased. However, no
appropriation was made to enable the geologist to
meet the cost of undertaking such a program. Thus
the wastage of water continues unchecked. In another
instance, the 1953 Legislature did not appropriate the
comparatively small sum of $9,400 a year for the Divis-
ion of Water Survey &c Research's share in the stream-
gaging program. This has resulted in the loss of all
funds previously invested in these gages, in the cessa-
tion of records of observations, and the blanking out
of considerable areas of the state from the possibilities
of making any studies to correct water problems there-
in. The lack of these records will be felt very severely
in the future as the past year has been apparently an
all-time dry year in some localities. Without the
records of these two years, data on the minimum flows
will not be available for design.
Other Deficiencies
These, however, are only some of the things we
should consider to insure fullest beneficial develop-
ment of our water resources. Of equal importance
with time, money and skills are such things as wise
laws properly administered, proper methods, suitable
organization of effort, and informed public opinion.
The basis for obtaining all the other needs is the last-
an informed public.
Water Laws
Only if the people appreciate the need for a proper
code of water laws, can such a code be enacted and
enforced. Moreover, such laws must not only meet
the local water situation, but must be entirely com-
patible with our particular political philosophy.
Even a hasty inspection of the legal aspects of
water reveals that this is a matter with many and
widest ramifications. Formulation of a water code is
frankly no business for an amateur. For a random
example, under present uncollected and undigested
doctrines and statutes, the basic underlying concept is
that a riparian owner has a number of complicated
rights involving not only water, but access, and actual
real estate. Such rights enjoy the status of real prop-
erty. Thus any statute diminishing or limiting riparian
rights might and probably would be challenged as
constituting a taking of property without just compen-
sation. For another example, present doctrines invest
a landowner with title to all substances underneath
his lands. If a law be enacted excluding underground









fresh waters from his ownership, the same challenge
to constitutionality could be made.
These and many other difficult problems will, how-
ever, have to be met when the time comes. For it is
obvious to all that our present doctrines and scattered
laws are neither a code nor do they fit the situation
even today in our present rudimentary stage of settle-
ment and development.
Possible Action
There are, however, at present a number of locali-
ties where popular opinion is aroused to the need for
a proper water code. Due to lack of population or
ample water, or both, there are a great many other
areas where the present situation is satisfactory and
no changes are tolerated. Obviously this situation can
be met by having a special water act tailored up for
each individual community. There are quite cogent
objections to the nonuniformity and conflicting con-
cepts which would result. The other solution would
be a general act, which would not apply to any area
until local action made it applicable. Such general
act then would be administered primarily on the local
level, but the state should have powers to oversee and
supervise, in the interests of adjoining basins and
areas. Certainly no one should have to go to Talla-
hassee to put a pitcher pump in his kitchen, but on
the other hand, it is equally wrong to permit the well
field in one county to be depleted by large scale drain-
age and diking of the recharge area in an adjoining
county.
Recommendation
It is therefore recommended that proper powers
and funds be granted the Attorney General of Florida
to prepare a proper water code for submission to the
1957 Legislature. To do this he will need time, money,
and expert help.
Recharge Areas
The matter of protection of recharge areas crept
into a preceding remark. This is a most important
matter in the future water supply of large sections of


Florida. It may, and probably will, become necessary
to find some practicable means of insuring the preser-
vation or even the improvement of many recharge
areas. For examples, the shallow water recharge area
west of Indian River in the Upper St. Johns River
marshes, the Polk and Pasco County highs, all feed
the well fields of localities where the population growth
is very large indeed. In some cases, these recharge
areas are within the same county as the wells. In other
cases two or even three counties may intervene be-
tween the recharge area and the well field. In both
cases, statutes and methods of financing are necessary
to insure the purchase and preservation of such re-
charge land surfaces. When such areas are set aside
and reserved from development harmful to their pri-
mary purposes, it may be quite feasible to devote them
to other uses, such as public parks, or public game
refuges, or public forests. In some cases, it might be
possible to mine the phosphates without harm to the
recharge function. However, no use harmful to the
recharge function should be permitted.
Conclusion
In summary it takes both people and water to make
water problems and it takes time, money, and skills
to plan and construct solutions to those problems.
Proper design must be based upon long continued
records of observations made in the past. We have
both the people and the water to make the water prob-
lems. Due to lack of wisdom in the past we do not
have the data from past time necessary for the im-
mediate solution of many of the problems. Major
increases of population are making the early solution
of these problems increasingly acute necessities. Lack
of funds appropriated by both the State Legislature
and the Federal Congress have materially handicapped
even reasonable progress in meeting these needs. Laws,
organizations, methods of financing, and of informing
the public are unsatisfactory. Correction of these
deficiencies and the institution of proper programs
in step with the increasing needs are evidently urgent
necessities.




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