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A Shared Responsibility by the State and Federal Government

Addressing this problem is a shared responsibility by both the state and federal government.

  • While the federal government controls the actual flow releases, they depend heavily upon the state for direction on whether to provide any water to the river when lake levels are low.
  • The federal government is primarily responsible for building Everglades projects, but it is the state that is responsible for buying land on which those projects are to be built.
  • The state is primary entity responsible for water quality and regulating pollution.

Therefore, both the state and the federal government need to do more in order to fix the Caloosahatchee.

Why Holding More Back in the Lake Isn’t the Answer

Some have suggested that reinforcing the dike around Lake Okeechobee will allow us to hold more water in the Lake and reduce discharges to the Caloosahatchee. The lake would still reach is capacity and releases would result. The lake is currently at the levels it should be to maintain the aquatic vegetation that provides habitat and cleanses the water.

Holding water deeper would kill this vegetation, sacrificing the lake’s health and resulting in poorer water quality in the releases to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee River.

The ultimate solution is to restore the lake and the river by keeping the Lake at its current levels, buying the lands in the Everglades Agricultural Area to restore the flow path south to the remaining Everglades.

What the Federal Government Needs to Do

  • Authorize the C-43 Reservoir project in the 2013 Water Resources Development Act, to build a large-scale storage facility to intercept some of the large-scale releases from the Lake to the Caloosahatchee River
  • Fast track authorization of the Central Everglades Planning Project as well as increase federal funding for currently authorized Everglades Restoration projects - to provide the alternate path to divert this water south of the Lake to the Everglades where it belongs
  • Direct the US Environmental Protection Agency to provide more oversight and enforcement of the Clean Water Act in Florida, including numeric nutrient water quality standards for all waters designated for swimming and fishing.

What the State Government Needs to Do

  • Buy the rest of the US Sugar lands in the Everglades Agricultural Area, and increase state funding for Everglades Restoration projects
  • Fully fund Florida Forever state land acquisition program to buy more conservation lands that naturally store and treat water
  • Increase urban stormwater and agricultural runoff treatment standards statewide
  • Set measurable enforceable nutrient pollution standards to control pollution at its source and make all our waters safe for swimming and fishing once more
  • Create a statewide database that would collect all reported mass aquatic life die-offs and human illness related to water pollution or harmful algae blooms
  • Fund the Caloosahatchee Watershed Protection Plan projects to build more regional freshwater storage and treatment facilities within the watershed
  • Declare a State of Emergency to send excess water through the Everglades Agricultural Area and revise current South Florida Water Management District operations to allow more water storage north of Lake Okeechobee

Solutions are in our hands

Support the Conservancy of Southwest Florida water policy team as we continue to aggressively champion for solutions in our region for clean water including:

  • Restoring historic water flow south through the Everglades Agricultural Area by supporting Everglades Restoration funding and purchasing the U.S. Sugar lands to provide an alternate path to flows currently going down the Caloosahatchee.
  • Building the C-43 reservoir as well as other water storage and treatment projects in the Caloosahatchee watershed for more regional freshwater storage and treatment.
  • Support the development and implementation of strong effective nutrient pollution water quality standards for waters flowing to the Caloosahatchee and other Southwest Florida rivers and estuaries.

Here's how you can help

  • Join our Take Action Team
  • Contact your state legislators to ask for their support in this coming session for at least $100 million of funding for Everglades Restoration, as well as funding for the projects in the Caloosahatchee Watershed Protection Plan.
  • Contact your federal legislators and ask them to support authorization and funding of the C-43 Reservoir and Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP), which would lessen the harmfully high discharges destroying the Caloosahatchee and put that water back where it belongs – flowing to the Everglades.
  • Become a member of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida and donate to help support our advocacy and lobbying campaign to save the Caloosahatchee, as well as all of the waters in Southwest Florida.
  • Join other concerned citizens that support our water policy and scientific studies at the 2013 RedSnook Catch and Release Charity Tournament.