Saturday, February 25, 2012

Florida Stormwater Canals Provide Much Benefit to Ecology - Keep Herbicides Away!

We have an amazing stormwater canal in our neighborhood, brimming with ecological benefit.  Most people however turn up their noses at the sight of our ditch.

Granted, all stormwater canals are excavated.  Excavated ditches usually are created to drain wonderful wetlands and floodplain areas.  But there is no going back to forests in our well developed neighborhood and our stormwater canal is here to stay.

Florida stormwater Canal, rich in #Biodiversity
The ecological benefits of our Stormwater canal are many.

She provides an incubation sanctuary for the many small tadpoles and amphibians who later feast on the pest insects in our permaculture garden.  If I chose an ideal location to raise a pest control army, the canal would be optimum.

Spring is approaching here in Northeast Florida and each time I walk to the edge of the ditch I am amazed at the amount of biodiversity hosted within the tannin stained waters.

Native wetland plants line the edges and along with grasses and sedges provide effective filtration systems for the rainfall runoff, cleaning the water before the runoff has a chance to reach local estuaries and the ocean.

Carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous are scavenged from the water and locked up within plant biomass, sequestering the toxins mankind has spewed into our environment.

The complexity of animal and plant interactions is simply amazing.  The biodiversity is rich.  The food chain is well developed, from the algae eaters to the swallow-tail kites, Elanoides forficatus hovering above.

No, the ditch is not over run with rats, mice, snakes or other vermin.  A balanced ecosystem will remain  in harmony with our human needs.  Our ditch provides pest control for our garden, fresh air for our backyard, wildlife habitat, cleans pollutants from adjacent roads, sequesters carbon and other toxins, attenuates flooding waters, offers many great photography opportunities, creates a barrier between our yard and our neighbors and more!

That is until the City comes to call with their annual herbicide application.

Where the idea of dead everything somehow is beneficial comes from, I don't know.

But sadly, many community's perception of neatness and sanitation lies in a starkly barren stormwater canal, devoid of all life, a mere excavated and mechanical culvert of water flow.

Nature cannot be held down for long though, and life returns each year.

Unfortunately, the herbicide applications simply take all the sequestered nutrients and toxins and release them right back into the waterway.

Harvesting biomass through mowing and leaf litter collection, removal and composting would offer significantly more ecological benefits.  TMDL credits, compost and other benefits could be achieved.  Waterways would become cleaner.

Maybe someday, but probably not in my lifetime.  The herbicide applicator has a job to do.

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