Yesterday, I awoke to frost on the ground. Not every inch of yard, but a good portion. It looks funny seeing the green grass poking through. Normally, this time of year the grass/yard growth is dormant and it gets a little brown - but we've been having a very wet season which makes for green grass and is unusual. Between the frost on the ground and the mist coming off the ponds, it looked like something from a horror novel. By about 8:30AM the sun was up an it was all gone.
We've had an unusual amount of rain - summer was really rainy, fall it still rained, and now in winter we are still having rain. No, not downpours every day, but rain just the same. For instance, in January the normal rainfall is less than 2 inches, and we've had more than 7 inches of rain. In the Orlando area, normal is a little over 2 inches and we've had a little over 5 ½ inches. In the summer we had standing water on the property in Central Florida - compete with wading birds, and about 2 weeks ago we had water seeping up through the concrete floor of the back porch - not from a plumbing issue, but just from the saturated ground.
Lake Okeechobee in the center of the state is at all time highs - the highest levels in nearly a century. Because of this, the lake is being drained due to fears the aging dike won't hold. The problem with this is that the lake is polluted … as it's been a dumping ground for chemicals, manures, fertilizers and other pollutants from big sugar and big cattle ranches in the area. This pollution, has pretty much been confined to the lake, but now that the lake is being drained at a rate of 70,000 gallons per second, to other coastal areas, we are ultimately polluting the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic.
With rising sea levels many coastal areas are having to contend with coastal flooding, and now we have to contend with the pollution issue as well. Normally salty water has been turned into dirty freshwater which is killing seagrass and oysters among other things. Friday, the Governor declared a state of emergency for several counties, asking for the federal government to begin repairs to the Lake Okeechobee infrastructure/dike. It is expected to cost 800 million dollars.
It's a vicious cycle … what is really needed is to send the water south to the everglades, but to do that you need land, voters passed Amendment 1 for the purpose of buying land, but our legislatures took those funds and diverted them to state employee salaries an issue yet unresolved.
I've lived in Florida all my life and quite frankly until last year, I was naive about what is going on in my state. I LOVE Florida, and am concerned about the direction it is heading.
In the past, I didn't feel like I could make a difference, but now, I know even little things can and do make a difference. What little things can you do ? Write your state representatives - it's as simple as sending them an email - you're on the computer quite a bit anyway. Join social media groups that will keep you informed - a few I belong to are FloridaIssues, StopBearHunt and ImagineOurFlorida, amoung many others - with Facebook, their posts come up in your feed and with a click you can read what's trending. Aside from advocacy groups, most counties and municipalities have Facebook pages they update. Spread the word … by mouth … the simplest and cheapest method of doing something. You'd be surprised how many people have no clue issues like these are taking place right in their backyard. And finally, educate yourself about the candidates so when you vote, you vote for people that care about what you care about.
This post started with my enchantment with my frosty lawn, and turned into something entirely different. I guess what weighs on my mind, comes out in my posts - it is what it is.