Title: Introduction
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/WL00003022/00001
 Material Information
Title: Introduction
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publisher: Frank E. Maloney, Attorney At Law
 Subjects
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
 Notes
Abstract: Richard Hamann's Collection - Introduction
General Note: Box 12, Folder 5 ( Legal Ramifications of Implementation of the Interim Action Program in Golden Gate Estates, Collier County, Florida - 1979 ), Item 2
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: WL00003022
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







I. INTRODUCTION



During the 1960's and early 1970's the Gulf American Corporation, now the

GAC Corporation (GAC), subdivided about 173 square miles of undeveloped land in

Collier County and sold it as lots in "Golden Gate Estates" (GGE). Phase 1,

Golden Gate Estates Redevelopment Study, Collier Ct., Fla., 1 [herein-

after referred to as the Phase 1 Report]. Approximately 200 miles of

canals were excavated to drain the land and provide the fill necessary

to build hundreds of miles of roads. Id. at T-109. Subdivision of the

land and changes in its zoning were approved by the Collier County Board

S of County Commissioners. Id. at 1. Over 50,000 people, in many parts

of the world, were sold residential lots in the project. Id. However,

except for a relatively small portion of the northwest section where

several hundred homes exist, very few residences have been built.

Proposed Interim Modifications, Golden Gate Estates Canal System, 2, 15,

CH2M-Hill, November, 1978 [hereinafter referred to as Interim Action

S Program].



Environmental Characteristics

In order to understand the environmental impacts that are occurring

in Golden Gate Estates it is first necessary to understand the ecological

characteristics of the area and its relationship to the surrounding

S region before it was disturbed.*


*The following discussion is drawn from several technical reports address-
ing the ecology of the Big Cypress Swamp in general and Golden Gate Estates
in particular. Phase 1 Report; Carter et al., Ecosystems Analysis of the
Big Cypress Swamp and Estuaries, EPA, Region IV (June 1973) [hereinafter


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Prior to construction of canals and roads, the area was vegetated by low

pineland and cypress communities similar to those found in other parts

of the Big Cypress Swamp. Much of the area was regularly inundated by

several feet of water during the rainy season. The presence and flow

of water has been and continues to be the single most important factor

shaping the environmental characteristics of the area and its relation-

ship to the surrounding region.

Under redevelopment conditions, surface water was present for many

months each year. The wetter areas in the southern part of the project

were normally flooded to a depth of about two feet for five to seven

months of the year. The drier "Golden Gates Highlands" in the northwest

portion (See Figure 10 in Phase 1 Report, T-51) flooded to a maximum

depth of about 7 inches of water and remained wet for 3 to 4 months of

the year. Id., at T-i. This water protected vegetation from fire,

moderated temperatures and humidified the local atmosphere, thus allowing

a unique community of plants and animals to thrive. It also recharged

shallow and deep aquifers. (Phase 1 Report, T-52).

Much of the water moved slowly seaward through strands of cypress.


S -referred to as EPA Report ; Black, Crow and Eidsness, Inc., Hydrologic
Study of the GAC Canal Network, Collier County, Florida (October, 1974)
[hereinafter referred to as Hydrologic Study, GAC]; Master Plan for
Water Management District No. 6, Collier County, Florida, Black, Crow and
Eidsness, Inc. (February, 1974); Master Plan, Water Management District
No. 7, including the Cocohatchee and Gordon River Basins, Collier County,
Florida, Black, Crow and Eidsness, Inc. (March, 1975); Robert Eisenbud,
An Examination of the Law Relating to the Water Rights of the Everglades
National Park: A Case Study in Legal Problems of the Coastal Zone,
University of Miami Sea Grant Program, Technical Bulletin No. 21, 1-71
(1971); Water Cycles, Water Resources Planning and Urban Development at
Rookery Bay, Florida A Program for Protection of Water Systems and
Estuarine Resources, John Clark and the Conservation Foundation (July
1974); The South Florida Study, Florida Division of State Planning
(July, 1977).


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At the edge of land it created an extremely productive estuary by dilu-

ting seawater and contributing nutrients to the saltmarsh and mangrove

communities. Many species of marine life must live in brackish waters

during one or more stages of their life cycle. Proper salinities were

maintained by the slow, steady infusion of freshwater from the inland

cypress swamps of Golden Gate Estates. Rapid fluctuations in salinity

were prevented by the slowly draining head of fresh water.



Harmful Impacts of the Canals

Construction of the Golden Gate Estates canal system has had

devastating impacts on the environment described above. See generally,

Phase 1 Report; EPA Report. Surface and shallow groundwaters are

rapidly collected, channelled and transported from the interior swamps

directly to the open waters of the estuary. Hydrologic Study, GAC, 3-1.

The duration of flooding has been reduced and, most importantly, the

area is dried out much more thoroughly during the dry season. Further-

more, the drying effect extends beyond the area of Golden Gate Estates.

Water is drawn from the Corkscrew Swamp and farmlands to the north and

from the Fahkahatchee Strand. EPA Report, 1-3; Phase 1 Report, T-46,

fig. 9-55.

Plant and animal communities, both within and beyond the borders of

Golden Gate Estates have been adversely affected by the drying. Exten-

sive farmlands to the north have been excessively drained. Phase 1 Report

at T-147. Their agricultural use has become prohibitively expensive and

difficult because of lowered groundwater and thousands of acres have been

abandoned for that reason. Owners of these lands, farmers and the entire

Region are consequently suffering an economic loss. Phase 1 Report, T-V


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at 147. Excessive drainage is also dramatically increasing the incidence

of destructive fires, both within GGE and beyond its borders. Phase 1

Report, 3, T-iv, T-79, T-83, T-110.

By decreasing the recharge of groundwaters, the canals are seriously

threatening the adequacy of regional water supplies. Phase 1 Report at

ii, iii. All potable water in the region is drawn from groundwater. The

possibility of salt water intrusion has also been increased, threatening

plants, animals and water supplies. Phase 1 Report Id. at iii.

Perhaps the injury of greatest economic importance has been the

degradation of the estuaries into which the canals discharge. Hydrologic

Study, GAC, 6-4; Phase 1 Report, T-145, 146; EPA Report, 11-1 to 4.

The flow of nutrients to saltmarsh and mangrove communities has been

"short circuited" by the canals. Great pulses of freshwater are discharged

after rainy periods. There is little flow during dry periods. Rapid

fluctuations in salinity--from very salty to very fresh and back again--

occur to the detriment of such marine life as snook, spotted sea trout,

shrimp and oysters, which are the basis for major local seafood industries.

Ironically, despite the enormous harmful impacts of the canals, they

provide inadequate drainage to allow development of the area.

[T]he 10 year storm would cause flooding of up to
2 feet from the City of Golden Gate eastward to
Everglades Boulevard and thence north to within 4
miles of the northern perimeter of Golden Gate
Estates (Black, Crow and Eidsness, 1974).
Similarly, the 10 year storm would result in :e
floods to 2 feet from the extreme south end as
far north as Stewart Boulevard, and north from
S.R. 84 for a distance of approximately 9 miles.
(Phase 1 Report at T-152).

Water depths of 7 inches in the lower areas of the "Highlands" and

24 inches in the southern areas are still reached briefly during heavy


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rain periods and flooding, with decreasing water levels, may persist

for two and three months, respectively. Id. at T-i, ii.



Interim Action Program

The proposed Interim Action Program is designed to reduce the harm-

ful impacts of the canal system until a permanent solution can be

developed and implemented. Interim Action Program 1-2. It has two main

features. First, a natural drainage divide would be restored by the in-

stallation of earth plugs to prevent waters on the eastern side of the

project, the Fahka Union canal drainage area, from draining out the

S western side through the Golden Gate Canal into Naples Bay. Id. at 5.

Second, several earth plugs would be installed and existing weirs would

be raised in the Fahka Union canal drainage area to retain water for

S longer periods of time and divert some of this water into the Fahkahatchee

S Strand. There are alternative heights to which the weirs may be raised.

The first alternative is to raise them to an intermediate height of two

feet. Id. at 8. The second alternative is to raise them to ground

S level. Id. at 12.

Implementation of the intermediate level alternative would decrease

yearly runoff through the Fahka Union canal by approximately 50% and

would decrease the rate of peak discharge by 35%. Id. at 15. It would

raise groundwater levels by 1 to 2 feet. Id. Peak wet season flood

levels would not be increased, but their duration would be extended from

a few weeks to one month longer. Id. at 16.

Implementation of the ground level alternative would virtually

eliminate the discharge of runoff through the Fahka Union canal. Id. at

15. Ground water levels would be raised 2 to 4 feet. Id. The duration


I I 1 111 -, ---


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of flooding would be increased an additional few weeks and flood peaks

would be increased by up to 1 or 2 feet, thus increasing the incidence

of flooding in some areas. Id. at 16.


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