The goal of this project is to examine the social, institutional, and economic processes that have produced the current hydrologic disconnections within the broader Everglades watershed. I will examine the production of uncertainties and conflict by focusing my research on two key areas of seemingly intractable conflict: 1) release of water through the S-12 structures (along the Tamiami Trail that control the flow of water into northwestern Shark River Slough); and 2) water quality within and flowing out of Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades Agricultural Area, in the northern part of the greater Everglades ecosystem.
We need to understand how the conflicts surrounding the S-12 structures may be overcome, in order to release more water through the Tamiami Trail (currently a barrier to sheet flow), and ultimately to the oligohaline ecotone. Operations of the S-12 structures, and plans for water flow under the newly constructed bridge, are governed by a complex array of federal and state regulatory agencies, which often must balance competing water delivery and flood control needs with endangered species impacts. In addition, water quality concerns have further hampered S-12 operations and restoration planning. Water quality concerns originate in and around Lake Okeechobee, which is plagued by high levels of both ongoing phosphorus inputs and ?legacy? phosphorus loads. Both conflicts are the target of multiple, long-running lawsuits, which pose additional management challenges.
Using a multi-methodological approach, I will interview stakeholders and resource managers, as well as analyze archival data and restoration planning documents to understand the management (institutional) and local perspectives that create connections and disconnections of water in Lake Okeechobee and the EAA, the S-12 structures, and eventually to the oligohaline ecotone.