On the developing energy crisis and our water resources - April 6th, 1973

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On the developing energy crisis and our water resources - April 6th, 1973

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On the developing energy crisis and our water resources - April 6th, 1973
Parker, Garald G. (Garald Gordon), 1905-2000
Publication Date:
Physical Location:
Box 2


Subjects / Keywords:
Aquifers -- Hydrogeology -- Everglades (Fla.) ( lcsh )
Hydrology -- Florida -- Biscayne Aquifer (Fla.) ( lcsh )

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of South Florida
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
Rights Management:
The University of South Florida Libraries believes that the Item is in the Public Domain under the laws of the United States, but a determination was not made as to its copyright status under the copyright laws of other countries. The Item may not be in the Public Domain under the laws of other countries.
Resource Identifier:
032968560 ( ALEPH )
891343127 ( OCLC )
G16-00673 ( USFLDC DOI )
g16.673 ( USFLDC Handle )

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./ FROM THE DESK OF THE CHIEF HYDROLOGIST: On the Developing Energy Crisis and Our Water Resources Last week in parts of Florida some gasoline stations closed for lack of fuel to sell their customers and some other stations began limiting their customers to 5 or 10 gallons. Recently, plane flights were cancelled in parts of the Northeast and Midwest when fuel supplies were temporarily exhausted. With increasing frequency parts of the country have suffered ''blackouts" when power failures cut off all electrical energy and "brownouts" when electrical power was insufficient to meet ~he load imposed upon it or for other reasons, such as plant malfunctions. The list could go on and on but these examples are indicative of a situation that is creating a growing uneasiness in the country regarding the sufficiency of our future energy resources and of the anxiety of the power-producers to build more and more electrical generating plants and of the petroleum, gas, coal and nuclear energy fuel sources to develop additional fuels to "meet the energy crisis." Our uses of energy are prodigious and much of it wasteful. As individuals we tend to consider use of private automobiles as a necessity of life, and certainly to some extent this is true. The spread of population from the cities to the suburbs places people away from mass transportation facilities thus forcing the use of private vehicles. And to make matters even worse, one car no longer suffices for the family: 2, 3 or even 4 cars are connnonplace, especially in the suburbs. Car pools are not popular, and most morning and evening traffic is composed of single-occupant autos. Instead of using 60-90 hp. vehicles that operate on 20-40 mpg of gasoline as is connnon in the rest of the world, we tend to buy the huge, high-powered behemoths that gulp fuel at a rate of less than 10 mpg. At home we live in poorly insulated houses that are not designed to conserve energy, and more and more we turn to using electricity for heating and cooling


the houses, and to power the numerous energy consuming gadgets that our parents and grandparents had no knowledge of. To a large extent the electrical power industry is to blame for creating this exorbitant use of electricity. Reddy Kilowatt has led us all down the path of energy waste. In the cities we light our streets, keep big public and business office buildings, stores and factories lighted all night and air-conditioned all year around, and advertising signs make garish the night street scene with their bright,,gaudy lights. Our athletic contests once were played only during the daylight, and practice fields likewise used only during daytime. Now we burn huge banks of floodlight lamps so that both practice and contests can be held on shadowless brightly illuminated playing fields. In the skies both passenger planes and air-freight utilize the most costly and energy-using forms of fuels. This could go on and on, but should suffice to make the point: we are reckless and prodigious in our wasteful, luxurious uses of fuels, so much so that our use of electrical energy here in Florida is doubling every eight years. Now the time has come that we must call a halt to it, otherwise we will, in our own lifetimes, see the demise of the clean-burning fossil fuels --the petroleum, hard coal, and natural gas supplies. True, there is an abundance of coal still to be mined, but mostly it is low-grade and sulfurous; when burned it adds to the air pollution that not only makes breathing difficult at times in our major cities but creates sulfuricacid droplets in the air causing respiratory diseases and premature deaths. Further, to mine most of this coal open-pit strip mines will be required, thus defacing the land. Our oil shortage here can only be alleviated, not cured, by additional o i l exploration and off-shore production. Certainly we need to develop these fossil fuels but it would be foolhardy to exhaust them and thus find this nation wholly at the mercy of the near-F.ast countries whose supplies we would need but would -2-


have to compete for with the other industrial nations of Europe and Asia. Nuclear energy offers some hope to supply us with needed fuel, as the present generation of fission reactors is now doing, but it, too, is a limited source until the breeder reactors (fraught with danger because of the large quantities of the long-lived and highly poisonous wastes they produce) come "on line," possibly in another 20 years. The development of the most promising source of nuclear energy of all, the fusion reactors, are even farther off i n the distant future. There seems now to be scant hope that, within the next generation, the "nukes" will be the salvation of our energy problems. Solar energy offers some immediate alleviation, but not on the large energy-scale that seems to be needed in the future. Homes and small businesses could be heated and cooled with solar heat-capturing, roof-top devices. Such equipment is successfully working in Japan and Israel on a large scale and can be as successfully utilized here. We should be putting large sums of research money and skilled scientific and engineering manpower into making this source of now generally wasted heat useful to us. But do we need all the energy that the electrical power industry is saying we will need? Do we need to line Florida's shorelines with wall-to-wall power generating stations as the power company forecasts for energy production would require. The answer is an emphatic no! We can use less and waste less energy as pointed out earlier in this essay, possibly cutting estimated needs in half. It may well be, too, that the population growth factors built into the power company formulas are twice too large. Already, in the past two years we have almost reached a zero population growth rate. The young families of the current generation very well may have reached the decision that two children, instead of 4 or more, is all that they require for fulfillment of family desires or is all that they can afford to feed, clothe, house and put through the schools. If so, we may well be able to get along with far fewer electrical generating plants than is now being forecast for our society. -3-


In a decision reached on September 7, 1971, the Florida Pollution Control Board denied the Florida Power and Light Company a permit to use a site on Tampa Bay adjacent to Port Manatee. The decision was based on the probability that heat-pollution of the bay waters would be detrimental to the marine resources. The result of this decision was to force Florida Power and Light inland to a fresh water site, and probably to force future such plants inland. The initial site selected was in Hillsborough County 8 miles inland from the bay and the water needed was to be withdrawn from the Little Manatee River. Our Alafia River Basin Board, together with the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, opposed both the site and the use of water from the Little Manatee River. The Alafia Board did not want to see 40 or more mgd permantently allocated from the basin's dwindling water resources for cooling-water purposes for the big power plant, and Hillsborough County Commissioners opposed it chiefly because the additional air pollution could well produce intolerable conditions for people living in the adjacent area. With this opposition Florida Power and Light then decided to move the plant into 1-hnatee County, take the water needed from an elbow bend of the Little Manatee where it meanders into Manatee County before finding its way back into Hillsborough, and thus be outside the Di.strict s jurisdiction. They sought permits from the Florida Pollution Control Board re. the air pollution problem and from the Florida Department of Natural Resources re. water supplies. Both permits were granted. In the meantime, Florida Power and Light had cut down their cooling pond acreage from 6,000 to 4,000 acres, and agreed to a sliding scale proposed by the Southwest Florida Water Management District for taking water from the river so that the greater the flow of the stream the more the water that could be pumped. Thus the long-drawnout controversy over the present site is "settled" although not everyone is happy with it. The fact remains that as more and more energy is needed, more and more electric plants will be needed. However, if the Department of Pollution Control -4-


prevents sites from being established along the Gulf shore, the only place left to go is inland, and instead of salt water for cooling purposes, fresh water would be required. But our water budget studies clearly show us that there isn't enough water for many more electric generating plants such as this one using, as it does, as much water as a city such as Tampa or St. Petersburg. What to do then? First of all, drastically restrict the wasteful or nonproductive uses of electrical energy. This will reduce expected future needs. Then, instead of constructing future generating plants e ither on shore or inland, establish such sites on offshore platforms, either floating at anchor or built upon piling much as the b i g offshore oil-well platforms are constructed. By moving to s ites1in 50 or more feet of salt water, intakes of cold water could be set near the ocean floor thus creating a favorable advantage in cooling effectiveness over either the shore or inland sites. Discharge of the heated effluent could be made at the surface w ithout any known unfavorable e ffect on marine life, such as would happen to shore discharges in 15 feet of water, as was planned by Florida Power and Light at the Port Manatee Site. Moving to the offshore site does not eliminate the problem of drains on fossil fuels or nuclear fuels to generate steam to turn the turbines that produces the electricity. It merely eliminates heat pollution of the shone and inland waters and totally removes the otherwise intolerable draft on our fresh waters that the inland sites would create. Garald G. Parker, C.P.G. Senior Scientist and Chief Hydrologist 04-06-73 -5-


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