The Everglades of today is less than half of its original size, and has lost over 70 percent of its water flow. This loss has altered the ecosystem, particularly the timing and volume of the water supply needed to maintain the biological integrity of these wetlands. The number of native birds and other wildlife has dwindled and some have vanished completely.The Everglades is one of the largest wetlands in the world and is essential for cleansing and purifying water that flows from the north before it enters Florida Bay and Keys area off the southern tip of Florida. It also provides much needed storage for a state that receives its annual rainfall in a feast or famine scenario, with months of drought necessitating surficial storage of water to feed natural systems and the growing public water supply need.Stormwater runoff from development north of Lake Okeechobee in the Kissimmee watershed is now feeding more polluted water than ever into the headwaters of the Everglades. The Lake is now used as a reservoir for public water supply, putting an immense stress on a dike that was not constructed to bear such a burden. The Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers were dredged to connect them to Lake Okeechobee for the purpose of discharging excessive water from the lake to prevent flooding.
To save the Everglades, as well as Lake Okeechobee and the connected rivers and estuaries, would take nothing less than a system-wide solution of replumbing South Florida. A minimum of 200,000 acres is needed to store water south of the lake but north of the remaining Everglades in what is now referred to as the Everglades Agricultural Area, to allow the water to flow south, being stored and cleansed on its way as it historically did.
The Everglades is an enormous freshwater marsh that once covered an area of 4,000 miles. And the Everglades story is a multi-faceted tale of environmental destruction.
We continue to advocate for adequate sampling, more stringent enforcement, and controlling pollution at the source in order to avoid the more costly and time-consuming clean-up.
The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan provides a framework to restore, protect and preserve the water resources of central and southern Florida.
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