We have already made huge investments in water distribution and management to buffer ourselves from floods and drought, and to restore the ecology of the Everglades. NWF Photo/Hank Hearn. One million acre-feet (an acre one foot deep) of storage, distributed across several locations both south and north of Lake Okeechobee, could substantially reduce water surpluses and shortages for farmers, tribes, city residents and the Everglades. WMFE environmental reporter Amy Green takes a deep dive into the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, asking how successful it's been after two decades and billions of dollars. Still, progress is possible. The critical dollars to build these project are available from both the federal government and the state of Florida. Florida’s then-Senate President-elect Joe Negron announced on August 9, 2016, that he’d seek state lawmakers’ approval for a $2.4 billion plan to store water south of Lake Okeechobee. and pick the featured episodes for your show. Water storage is key to the future of cities, agriculture and Everglades restoration - the same structures buffer everyone. Everglades National Park (ENP) is our only national wetland park, and one of the largest aquascapes in the world. The park and the wider Everglades ecosystem have suffered immense ecological damage from years of overdrainage to prevent flooding and promote development. The Everglades landscape is flatter than a billiard table, and water tends to pool on it. In 2000 Congress approved the largest ecological restoration project in the world – the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, which is expected to take more than 35 years to complete and cost at least US$10.5 billion. In 2000, Congress passed the 30-year Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) to restore, protect and preserve 18,000 square miles of land and water over 16 Florida counties. Linda Friar, National Park Service/Flickr, Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, as much as 82 percent from average levels year to year, South Florida Water Management District/Flickr. Healthy ecosystems are vital to all life on Earth. We need to clean the water, take out the fertilizer and build marshes that are designed to clean the water as it flows south.”, –Dr. What man has so profoundly damaged, man must restore. Replacing one regular light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb will save 150 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. The restoration plan seeks to restore some of the Everglades’ natural water flow. What factors regulate the structure and function of a wetland? In 2000, the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) was announced as a joint project involving state, federal, and water management agencies. It’s easy! A strategy called the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) was enacted to restore portions of the Everglades, Lake Okeechobee, the Caloosahatchee River, and Florida Bay to undo the damage of the past 50 years. Before the 20th century, the Everglades managed these flows naturally. Learn how to identify nonnative animals and plants so you can tell them apart from native Florida species. To date, the CERP is the largest ecosystem restoration project in … Global climate change raises other uncertainties. Are you the creator of this podcast? Restoration thus is effectively at a standstill. The Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir is a part of CERP that is designed to relieve the pressure on the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries by taking up water from Lake Okeechobee that is currently damaging the east and west coasts. If we do not make these investments, all of South Florida’s past drought and flooding challenges will intensify as our weather becomes less predictable. Tom Van Lent, Ph.D., Vice President, Everglades Foundation. Verify your account. Seagrass beds and mangrove forests along the coasts are already collapsing, partly due to reduced freshwater flow. And a recent study estimates that hydrological restoration could be stymied if climate change reduces Florida’s annual rainfall by as little as 10 percent. Although the Everglades is important for our wildlife, it impacts the residents of Florida, too! I just know the only salvation is to figure out how to restore flows through the Everglades and cleanse flows to the estuaries. This Everglades reservoir is the most important project that will significantly reduce the amount of freshwater that is currently being discharged east and west. Nearly 83 percent of the Everglades lies outside of the national park, mostly on agricultural or state-protected lands. Saving the Everglades HOW CAN WE SAVE THE EVERGLADES? Saving the Everglades Collaborating with diverse stakeholders to yield conservation gains. Start listening. Protect the Everglades by keeping your electronic devices off and unplugged when touring the Everglades. The influx of fresh water will keep salt water at bay. You Can Help! Meanwhile, the Everglades ecosystem south of Lake Okeechobee is rapidly deteriorating. Alligators created ponds to live in and crayfish burrowed into sediments during dry seasons. Florida has huge swings in annual rainfall, which can vary by as much as 82 percent from average levels year to year, and water evaporates very rapidly during dry seasons. “The managers still control the water flow. Although the rainy season in Florida has finally begun, this year’s drought shows how important it is to restore America’s Everglades. Everglades restoration is the only way to get the water right so wading birds like wood storks can thrive. Seagrass dieoffs in southwest Florida, 2013. Facing these conditions, scientists and managers are privately and off-record debating the formerly unthinkable option of letting water that contains some intermediate level of phosphorus flow into the Everglades. Include the answers to the following 4 questions in your essay: What is a wetland? An agreement was reached with all stakeholders signing off, including sugar and agricultural interests. Open the locks and look how much water we’ve got running through. Everglades Trust supports the 200-plus Everglades scientists who believe that increased storage, treatment and conveyance of water south of Lake Okeechobee is essential to stop the damaging discharges to the coastal estuaries; to restore the flow of clean, fresh water to Everglades National Park, Florida Bay and the Florida Keys; to improve the health of Lake Okeechobee; and to protect the drinking water for 8 million Floridians living in Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Florida Sea Grant, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the South Florida Water Management District, and the U.S. Geological Survey. So, in honor of participating in National Wildlife Federation's Wildlife Week, here are a few ways that you can help protect the Everglades and the animals that call it home. Plants in South Florida evolved in soils that were naturally low in phosphorus, so the Everglades is hypersensitive to it. Water storage is key to the future of cities, agriculture and Everglades restoration - the same structures buffer everyone. Even mildly relaxing phosphorus standards could make hydrological restoration much more achievable. Then they could [close them and] drop these boats to the bottom in two days. Stormwater treatment ponds, used to remove excess phosphorus before discharging water into the Everglades. The Everglades Foundation worked with nearly two-dozen other private and public organizations to identify the essential goals in working towards fulfilling CERP’s promise. This system is partially constructed, but water cannot be released to the Everglades until it is finished, which may not happen for years or even decades, largely because of the cost. But storing water is difficult and expensive in such a flat, porous landscape. We sell the carbon-neutral biofuels cheaper than petroleum products, and we make a fortune, ultimately billions of dollars per year. We have already made huge investments in water distribution and management to buffer ourselves from floods and drought, and to restore the ecology of the Everglades. At the heart of Everglades restoration is reconnecting Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades so ample water can flow south again, get cleansed and released into the Everglades and down to its terminus, Everglades National Park and Florida Bay. As development spread across Florida, farmers, ranchers and urban dwellers sought to control floods and manage water supplies during droughts. Everglades1 - The Everglades What is the Everglades What have humans done that alter the structure and function of the Everglades How can we restore the Completing an integrated natural and human water system for south Florida will have a payoff comparable to a moon shot. Building more water storage facilities would also drastically improve our ability to remove phosphorus from the water. The plan would require the acquisition of about 60,000 acres of land in an area mostly occupied by sugar growers and farmers. Many animals depend on this National Park and it’s up to us to protect it. "We're starting to see the vegetation respond, and we're getting more of those marsh grasses, more of those open water sloughs," says Stephen Davis, senior ecologist with the Everglades Foundation. Audubon's work to restore the Everglades is focused on implementing the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan and other restoration projects to achieve ecological benefits and restore the characteristic abundance of wildlife. Perhaps more than any other U.S. national park, ENP’s treasures are hard to defend. Among these are improving and protecting water quality, quantity, providing water storage needs and restoring the historic water flow from Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades. The Everglades is very close to sea level, and is already being affected by sea level rise. However, that view rests heavily on the assumption that we will commit to fixing a central problem – water storage. Engineers rerouted a huge portion of the water that flowed south into the Everglades from Lake Okeechobee, diverting it to Florida’s east and west coasts. It has to change.” It’s a window of opportunity that’s wide open and the time to act is now. In ecologists’ worst-case scenario, the Everglades could reach a condition called an alternative stable state, in which the ecosystem has been altered so drastically that it cannot be restored to its original condition. We process the algae into oil and other bio-fuels. And the nonprofit Everglades Foundation, which advocates for restoration, is offering a $10 million prize to researchers who can develop a cost-effective technology for removing phosphorus from natural water bodies. Peat soils in coastal forests are collapsing due to salt water intrusion. Current levels range between 100 and 300 ppb. Florida is now under federal court orders not to release water to the Everglades until phosphorus levels have been reduced close to natural concentrations. Together, we can pass the test. The Everglades CISMA offers many identification tools on our Publications & Tools page. It would take 30 years and cost $7.8 billion to complete. “To me it’s just a fascinating thing and I just want to learn everything I can about it.” The clean water goes to the Everglades. View all episodes. This enabled agricultural development and a huge western expansion of Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. The Everglades Trust, Inc.is a Florida corporationand a nonprofit 501(c)(4) organization.Contributions are not tax deductible. Everglades restoration is funded annually by the United States Congress via direct appropriation to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of the Interior. A single tree can help to absorb the harmful effects of carbon dioxide in the air. The Everglades also protect South Florida residents from flooding and droughts. Algae removes the nutrients and clean the water. Using Amendment 1 and other funds, we must identify and secure 60,000 acres of land south of the lake without delay, before development in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) or other uncertainties condemn our waters to irrevocable destruction. Read more here. Tom Van Lent, Ph.D., Vice President, Everglades Foundation. What is the Everglades? Write an article and join a growing community of more than 119,900 academics and researchers from 3,854 institutions. Though we fought and were successful in getting Senate Bill 10 passed by the Senate, House and signed into law by the governor, the project was greatly reduced due to the lobbying efforts of Big Sugar. How can we save the Everglades? The construction of the C-43 water reservoir is an important piece of the puzzle to restore the whole of the Everglades … They were a network of vast marshes that expanded and contracted from wet to dry seasons, populated by plants and animals that evolved strategies for dealing with unpredictable depths. This $1 billion effort to treat large volumes of water down to the very low phosphorus level (10 parts per billion) that is needed to protect all of the Everglades is an unprecedented restoration effort. What man has so profoundly damaged, man must restore. Sawgrass, which grows throughout the Everglades, can withstand drought, floods and fires and thrives in soils that contain pathetically few nutrients. Under natural conditions water flowing into the Everglades would contain 8-10 parts per billion (ppb) of phosphorus. The whole thing is basically due to a lack of sheet flow. Read more about the plan here. It also destroyed the St. Lucie and Fort Meyers estuaries by flooding them with unnatural pulses of fresh, and often polluted, water. Going the final miles will be cheap compared to the alternative, and future generations will thank us for it. We can grow algae on part of the filtration lands. We have already made huge investments in water distribution and management to buffer ourselves from floods and drought, and to restore the ecology of the Everglades. In 1948 Congress authorized the Central & Southern Florida Project, which would become the largest water works project in the world, with more than 2,000 miles of canals and dikes, 71 pump stations, over 600 water control structures and 625 culverts. It is strange to know that a considerable amount of what you see out in … The National Park Service dedicated over $67 million from the NPF Resource Recovery and Protection program and its Everglades Freshwater Wetlands Mitigation Trust Fund to help restore, research, monitor, and manage 6,600 acres of abandoned farmland inside Everglades National Park. ORDER THIS ESSAY HERE NOW AND GET A DISCOUNT !! A one-time or recurring donation is one of the easiest ways to help us preserve, protect & restore the Everglades. APES Case Study 121- Can We Restore the Florida Everglades? The Everglades Trust, Inc.6107 South Dixie Highway, Suite 3West Palm Beach, FL 33405, Tell State Senate to Prioritize the EAA Reservoir. At least 100 miles of it is made up of the wide-open grasslands called the Everglades. Research Professor, University of Florida. Peter Frederick currently receives funding from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for documentation of annual wading bird nesting responses to water management in the Everglades, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for work on American Oystercatcher habitat restoration. As I complete my 30th year as an ecologist studying and trying to restore this great place, it is increasingly clear that restoration can work and will benefit both wild spaces and people. It’s nearly impossible to restore the Everglades as it was before, the "River of Grass" undisturbed by human exploitation, pollution, agricultural development, and suburban expansion. the STAs have permits required under the Clean Water … Every tree helps! And as called for in CERP, the Everglades needs an above ground reservoir directly south of Lake Okeechobee located in the 500,000 acres of sugar cane fields that make up the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA). Lying at the southern end of an immense watershed the size of New Jersey, ENP is caught between the largest man-made water project in the world upstream and a rapidly rising ocean downstream. The state and federal governments are finally providing money to restore the Everglades, but voters and activists must continue to apply political pressure It’s a good time to be a heavy equipment operator or surveyor in South Florida, but only if the people keep speaking out. Flood control, Wilderness preservation. As a result, it takes a lot of land to store water. We need to clean the water, take out the fertilizer and build marshes that are designed to clean the water as it flows south.” –Dr. The construction of the C-43 water reservoir is an important piece of the puzzle to restore the whole of the Everglades to its former glory. Fish and bird populations are not recovering, alligators are getting skinnier, invasive pythons are ranging unchecked and algal blooms repeatedly devastate Florida Bay. In the Everglades it caused a 90 percent decline in populations of wading birds and repeated seagrass die-offs in Florida Bay and Charlotte Harbor, which in turn led to algae blooms and fish kills. The battle to restore the Everglades originally started to remedy the damage inflicted on … But water coming out of Lake Okeechobee is polluted with phosphorus from fertilizer used on farms upstream. Historic water flow pattern through the Everglades (click for larger image). Meanwhile, they can keep proclaiming themselves pro-environment because they support restoring the Everglades, even as they keep approving roads and other development-related projects that will cause additional environmental damage — damage that will, just like the Everglades, need to be fixed at taxpayer expense sometime in the future. Today we have an unparalleled opportunity to conserve and restore a fully functional, reconnected wetland corridor in the Everglades. The Everglades are the largest subtropical wetland in North America, and contain unique biodiversity thought to not be found anywhere else in the United States. They should get rid of the levee and just let it flow.” Opinions about how to fix the Everglades are easy to find. “The Everglades is such a finely tuned machine, I guess you would say, that inches of water make profound differences in the landscape and the vegetation and the wildlife,” says Green. Removing a 300-year supply of phosphorus from Lake Okeechobee waters will require many acres of land to store and treat water by filtering it through beds of aquatic plants and algal mats. In 2000, in an effort to protect and restore the area, Congress passed the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). Can a wetland be restored? I’m aware of the proposals to fix things, but I won’t pretend to know the details. The mission is to secure the waterflows to a healthy level after decades of draining the land. Public reports can help us detect new invaders and better understand the abundance and locations of established invasive species. The Everglades drainage area stretches over 200 miles, starting near Orlando and reaching south to the Gulf of Mexico. Conveyance and storage of massive amounts of water would be included, as well as the treatment of the polluted water before it is released, when needed, back into the Everglades. Current Everglades water flow (click for larger image). Yet in the last one hundred years, ecosystems everywhere have fallen victim to degradation, with severe consequences for the environment and consequently wildlife and humans. Change Your lightbulbs. Copyright © 2010–2021, The Conversation US, Inc. 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