Stetson Hosts Discussion on Florida’s Water Crisis

Jason Evans, Ph.D., associate professor of environmental science and studies at Stetson University, has fond memories of fishing with his grandfather on Florida lakes as a child. Reminiscing about those past experiences and paying homage to his college mentor are featured in his essay “Memory, Restoration and Reflections on our Janus Nature,” which is included in the book “Florida’s Changing Waters: A Beautiful World in Peril” by author and photographer Lynne Buchanan.

Kayak tour into Tate’s Hell with Serge Latour of La Lutra Ecotours. Photo/Lynne Buchanan

Evans and Buchanan will be discussing the book and water issues in Florida on Thursday, May 9, 6-8 p.m., at the Sandra Stetson Aquatic Center, 2636 Alhambra Ave., DeLand, 32720. The free event, which is sponsored by the Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience (IWER), also will feature Jeffrey Forbes of the Goodwin Company in Micanopy, Florida, presenting an informative talk about the recovered cypress materials that were used for the Aquatic Center’s ceiling.

Lynne Buchanan

A book signing and sale, light refreshments and a musical performance by Evans and Forbes against the backdrop of scenic Lake Beresford will follow the discussions. Books will be available to purchase for $45. Partial proceeds from the book sales will benefit IWER.

“The essay is a memoir piece that can be read as a tribute to my grandfather, William John Evans, my New College of Florida undergraduate mentor and philosophy professor Dr. Douglas Berggren, who is Lynne’s dad, and University of Florida Environmental Engineering Sciences Department professor Dr. Howard T. Odum who is renowned as an ecosystem ecology pioneer,” said Evans. Robert L. Knight, Ph.D., executive director of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute, is also an essay contributor.

Jason M. Evans, Ph.D.

Evans’ essay expresses profound and deep thoughts about water and the environment.

“The essay also includes philosophical themes, particularly the ‘Janus Paradox,’ which is based on the Roman god Janus who is depicted as having two faces because he looks to the future and the past,” said Evans. “The ‘Janus Paradox’ interested Dr. Berggren and influenced my development as an academic environmental scientist. The essay wraps up with some optimism about the resilience of both human and natural systems.”

People Swimming in Polluted Water of the Indian River Lagoon. Photo/Lynne Buchanan

Buchanan has always been passionate about photography. She enjoyed taking photos of her children while they were growing up and decided to take her photography interest further by registering for a workshop with famous black-and-white wilderness photographer Clyde Butcher at the Big Cypress National Preserve in south Florida.

Florida’s waterways have been an important part of Buchanan’s life since she was five years old. She enjoyed going to the beach and diving for sand dollars in waters overflowing with scallops, whelks and seagrasses in Sarasota, Florida. She became interested in water quality after noticing algae blooms and red tide, which prompted her to test water at various locations in the Sarasota area during different times of the year and after certain weather events with a friend for a high school project. She also became an avid kayaker in college and became interested in the aesthetic qualities of inland rivers. After enrolling in a yoga teacher training program, she learned about the waterways’ spiritual lessons.

Agricultural Runoff in the C-44 Canal from Lake Okeechobee. Photo/Lynne Buchanan

Buchanan is exposing the perilous water situation to the public through her photography. She is also collaborating with water-quality and environmental advocates, including members of the Waterkeeper Alliance and Native American citizens who are trying to preserve their ancestral lands and drinking water.

Her 232-page book provides readers with essays and color photos, featuring various waterways throughout Florida.

The book cover: “Florida’s Changing Waters: A Beautiful World in Peril”

“My photos feature pristine areas that showcase the natural beauty of Florida, which is still hanging on in less developed areas as well as the devastation we are causing our waterways through development, agriculture, climate change and other human influences, such as, altering the natural riparian landscape and encroaching on wetlands,” said Buchanan. “The call to action for water is embodied in the essays with discussions about what we can do and what’s happening to our waterways. The images of cyanobacteria, suffering animals and people swimming in impaired bodies of water convey how we are intimately connected with water and that it’s in fact the source of all life.”

Evans, Buchanan and IWER hope the book will educate and make a difference in the community.

“We hope that the book will be a source of inspiration for local action in addressing the environmental issues that Volusia County faces,” said Evans. “The St. Johns River, the Indian River Lagoon and our local springs all have serious water quality issues that require long-term commitments to solve. If we do not act proactively in restoring water quality and addressing the root causes of climate change, then our children will inherit impoverished ecological systems.”

-Sandra Carr