We all learned the rule of "cause and affect" in school; as we look around today there are lots of examples of environmental catastrophes due to the mismanagement of our natural resources. A traditional Florida fishery on the verge of collapse is yet another example of why we need to pursue integrated water management.
Because of a water war between Georgia, Alabama and Florida the Apalachicola River has reached record lows, causing less fresh water to reach the Apalachicola Bay. For decades, the bay has produced 90 percent of Florida’s oysters and the livelihood for oystermen and women in the area. However, the lack of fresh water reaching the bay has caused a serious reduction in the bay’s oyster population.
Coupled with persistent drought and the fact that Georgia refuses to send more water downstream to Florida’s Apalachicola River, the region now faces an environmental and economic crisis. Isn’t there another way?
Surfrider’s Know Your H2O program advocates for integrated water management, water management that recognizes connections and produces multiple benefits as opposed to multiple impacts. Are green lawns really worth all of this potentially permanent damage?
It’s not just about the oysters either. Ecosystem-based management means taking the entire ecosystem, the way it interacts, including with humans, into the equation when making decisions. The decline in the oyster population is not the only impact; it is just the most obvious one at this point.
Hopefully Georgia, Alabama and Florida will take decisive action to use less water, leaving more fresh water in the river and bay to restore the ecosystems that need it as well. It is all of our responsibility to recognize the canary in the coalmine and change our ways before it is too late.
Full article in the NY Times: Thirst for Fresh Water Threatens Apalachicola Bay Fisheries