During 2012, EPA and the state of Florida reached consensus on new water quality restoration strategies for improving water quality in the Everglades. These computer models are designed to accurately predict the landscape and hydrological responses to different water management scenarios in the Greater Everglades. The CEPP-South project removes barriers to water flow and adds outlet capacity so that the central everglades can be connected to Everglades National Park through the Tamiami Trail bridges. When it starts raining over south Florida, it rains everywhere including on our largest lake, Lake Okeechobee. Its wetlands and wildlife draw large numbers of birders, anglers, boaters, and other outdoor enthusiasts. The committee focused special attention on Water Conservation Area (WCA) 3 as an example of these challenges because it serves as the main flow-way of water through the remnant Everglades. Coastal Everglades, deprived of fresh water, near unhealthy ‘tipping point’ | Miami Herald ... Lake Okeechobee, which once supplied a steady flow of clean water … The Biscayne Aquifer, specifically, is the principal source of drinking water for southeastern Florida. The Everglades is naturally a "low-nutrient" system. Water arrives into the Everglades in two ways: The most direct way, is through rain. Even small amounts of nutrients, such as phosphorus, can upset the ecological balance needed by the native plants and animals in the historic "River of Grass." Research focuses on understanding the role of nutrients within this interconnected system; the movement, distribution and quality of water needed for restoring or enhancing the ecosystem; and water's linkage to plant, soil and wildlife health. Everglades National Park was established as a national park in 1947 and consists of nearly 2,400 square miles. Renowned for its wading birds and wildlife, the Everglades is home to dozens of federally threatened and endangered species, including the Florida panther, American crocodile, snail kite and wood stork. The Everglades once covered almost 11,000 square miles of South Florida. I guess we want the Everglades to get that water for our own needs as well as for the animals and plants that live there too. Florida Bay is connected to the Everglades by the flow of fresh water into the bay and the infiltration of salt water into the Everglades. Too little or too much delivered at the wrong time could spell disaster for the animals living here in the Everglades. Non-native plants have invaded around 1.7 million acres (690,000 hectares) in the Everglades… Homestead, FL The influx of fresh water will keep salt water at bay. The Everglades/Florida Bay system is an internationally recognized ecosystem that covers approximately 2 million acres in South Florida and contains the largest subtropical wetland in the United States. The current compartmentalized structure of the Everglades does not allow the water coming in to flow properly through the Everglades. It will increase water flow by 92 percent over current levels to Northeast Shark River Slough and rehydrate and restore the 104,000-acre East Everglades portion of Everglades National Park, which Congress added to the park in 1989, all the way down to Florida Bay. Explore the map to the right to view the historic, current and future water flow of the Everglades. As the water flows through the Everglades to the bay, a lot of it starts to slowly soak into the limestone rock underground. The water control structures built in the first half of the twentieth century interrupted the natural sheet flow from Lake Okeechobee south to Florida Bay. Excess phosphorus is regularly carried across the landscape in stormwater runoff (urban and agriculture), harming natural areas by promoting algae growth and an overabundance of non-native plants, crowding out natural vegetation and disrupting food sources and habitats used by native wildlife. The Everglades lost half its ecosystem after Tamiami Trail was built through the heart of the national park in the 1920s, cutting off water flow. Layers of porous and permeable limestone create water-bearing rock and soil that affect the climate, weather, and hydrology of South Florida. This area has been described as a vast sawgrass marsh, dotted with tree islands and interspersed with wet prairies and aquatic sloughs that historically covered most of southeastern Florida. This is the start of the most indirect way for water to flow into the Everglades. The mix of salt and fresh water makes it the only place on Earth where alligators and crocodiles exist side by side. Can you name any more? Aquifers are Florida’s freshwater source, so when you get a glass of water from your sink, the water coming out of the faucet is coming from these aquifers. Water flow in the Everglades begins with the Kissimmee River and other rivers, which pour into Lake Okeechobee. As the water flows through the Everglades to the bay, a lot of it starts to slowly soak into the limestone rock underground. As the water flows through the Everglades, it eventually chains into Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The bill gives the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers authority to begin planned water development projects, including the EEA, which is among a suite of a Everglades projects approved by state lawmakers in 2017 and is the keystone improvement in the 40-year, $8 billion Everglades restoration plan approved by Congress in 2000. The remaining Everglades/Florida Bay area provides significant ecological, water storage, flood control and recreational benefits to the region as well as important habitat for wildlife of national significance. Today's remaining Everglades is comprised of the Water Conservation Areas (WCA 1, WCA 2A, WCA 2B, WCA 3A, and WCA 3B), the Holey Land and Rotenberger Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) and Everglades National Park, which also includes Florida Bay. Your journey begins on the partially restored Kissimmee River, then explores Lake Okeechobee before meeting farmers in the Everglades Agricultural Areas. Then, follow the flow to learn how the natural Everglades' plumbing was modified and what it will take to restore it. WCA-3 provides habitat for important Everglades species and system features, and it is a nexus for many contentious Everglades water flow issues. Water is the lifeblood of the sprawling Everglades ecosystem, but its wetlands, prairies, forests and hammocks thrive on a seasonal cycle of rainy springs and … COVID-19 Response. West Palm Beach, FL 33406, Ecosystem Restoration - Projects and Programs, Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project, Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program, South Miami-Dade Water Issues Coordination Initiative, Restoration Strategies for Clean Water for the Everglades, Water Quality Improvement/Stormwater Treatment Areas, Source Controls and Best Management Practices, Long-Term Plan for Achieving Water Quality Goals, Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir Project, Role of the Everglades in the Greater Everglades ecosystem [PDF], Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). Just three feet of water at the highest points of the Everglades means: Birds cannot eat or feed Let's talk about another very important topic to the Everglades: WATER! At the fringe of Everglades National Park in southwest Florida, United States, the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge (TTINWR) habitat has been heavily affected by the disruption of natural freshwater flow across the Tamiami Trail (U.S. Highway 41). Without water, the marshes would dry up, the river of grass would cease to flow, plants would dry up, the fish would have no home, and the other animals would have no water to drink. In addition, many invasive animals thrive in the Everglades because they don't have any natural predators to keep their populations in check. This creates areas of extreme flooding, as well as areas that are completely lacking in water. Just a century ago, water flowed down the Kissimmee River into Lake Okeechobee, then south through the vast Everglades to Florida Bay, the ultimate destination of uninterrupted sheetflow. The Everglades faces a major problem of invasive species. The 1,500 acres (6.1 square km) of land protected by the dike is known as the Everglades Agricultural Ar… water volume and flow. The Everglades' ecosystem is a delicate balance that can easily be altered by just a few small changes. Because of efforts to drain the marshland for agriculture, development and flood control, the Everglades is today half the size it was a century ago. We use water for many things each day of our lives: These are just a few of the ways we use water. Just like us, the Everglades needs water since it is home to so many different plants and animals (remember to visit Everglades Seasons for more information). Here, water again flowed from north to south as a sheet – a wide, steady flow that’s almost imperceptible, but so crucial to inching what remains of the Everglades ever closer to what it looked like before people dug canals to drain the famed River of Grass for agriculture and development. During the early 1900’s, two major hurricanes hit Florida, killing thousands of people. They are the surviving remnants of the historical Everglades that once extended over an area approximately 40 miles wide by 100 miles long, from the south shore of Lake Okeechobee to the mangrove estuaries of Florida Bay. Just a century ago, water flowed down the Kissimmee River into Lake Okeechobee, then south through the vast Everglades to Florida Bay, the ultimate destination of uninterrupted sheetflow. 3301 Gun Club Road The Everglades is surrounded by human development, including the cities of Miami and Fort Lauderdale. The Everglades are part of a very large watershed that begins in the vicinity of Orlando. Now, restoration efforts are finally taking effect. In Florida, water falls and collects in springs and lakes that start to flow into the Kissimmee River. The land will be part of the 240,000-acre-feet Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) reservoir, which will curb and filter Lake Okeechobee discharges to prevent the spread of toxic green and blue algae into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers and to restore the natural “sheet flow” of the Everglades into Florida Bay. The geology of South Florida, together with a warm, wet, subtropical climate, provides conditions well-suited for a large marshland ecosystem. Everglades National Park and the WCAs were designated as Outstanding Florida Waters in 1978. The present Everglades has been subdivided by the construction of canals, levees, roads and other facilities and has resulted in lost connections between the central Everglades and adjacent transitional wetlands. Learning about the Everglades. As the water flows through the Everglades, it eventually chains into Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The trouble is that the Everglades needs a certain amount of water at certain times of the year. To return to the main Welcome page click on So how does this important element reach the Everglades? The properties of the rock underneath the Everglades can be explained by the geologic history of the state. It shows improvement in the restoration of animal habitat, but there’s still a lot of work to do in getting more water to flow south. Construction of canals and levees and impoundment of the Water Conservation Areas (WCAs) have caused over-drainage of some areas and excessive flooding in other areas. C-43: The Army Corps' name for the canal that turns into the Caloosahatchee River, but also the name of a reservoir being built near the Hendry-Lee county line to store and clean water … I mentioned a few at the start of this page. Research is also focused on the transition zone between the freshwater Everglades and saltwater Florida Bay. Portions of Tamiami Trail are being raised on extensive bridging to allow more of Shark River Slough to flow into Everglades National Park. Restoring a more natural water flow means more clean water delivered to the right places at the right times of year. The flow south to the Everglades will in- crease by 76% from 0.26 million m3/year (210,000 acre-ft/year or 68 billion gallon/yr) to 0.46 billion m3/year (370,000 acre-ft/yr or 121 billion gallon/yr) according to the EAA Reservoir plan (Smith, 2018). ** Hint ** Try remembering all the ways you use water. This "River of Grass" is a mosaic of sawgrass marshes, freshwater ponds, prairies and forested uplands that supports a rich plant and wildlife community. Originally, the Everglades flowed unobstructed from Lake Okeechobee to the Florida Bay. This resulted in the building of a dike at Lake Okeechobee, interrupting the sheet flow of water across the Everglades. This region is unique, relying on sheet flow of water The Everglades is a large region of freshwater marsh land that originally extended from Lake Okeechobee south to the tip of peninsular Florida. In addition to working with our local, state and federal partners on a number of Everglades restoration construction projects and initiatives, the South Florida Water Management District conducts multidisciplinary scientific research to understand the Everglades/Florida Bay system. Regional-scale ecological and hydrological models are being used extensively to synthesize the scientific data being collected. This is expected to restore the ecological health of the entire Everglades ecosystem; from periphyton to fish to wading birds. About 300 million y… A vast array of … The Everglades gets a lot of its water from rainfall (somewhere around 60 inches per year on average). Once covering an area of 4,000 square miles (10,360 square km), the Everglades has been significantly reduced to less than half that size. Water is an important element necessary for the Everglades’ survival. Water levels in Lake Okeechobee and local rainfall drove slow-moving sheet flow through the Everglades under topographic and hydraulic gra- “The outline of this Florida end-of-land, within the Gulf of Mexico, the shallows of the Bay of Florida and the Gulf Stream, is like a long pointed spoon. For example, the Everglades ecosystem provides drinking water for one-third of Floridians and irrigation for much of t… The Okeechobee River drains into Lake Okeechobee, a 730-square-mile (1,900 km … This separation and isolation can impair the Everglades' wildlife communities and sustainability of the ecosystem. This area is sensitive to water and nutrient management changes, which impact much of the bay's ecology. Once it soaks into the … Water control has been achieved through the use of drainage canals and pumping stations throughout the Everglades region. 33034. What does it do for the ecosystem? Because of efforts to drain the marshland for agriculture, development and flood control, the Everglades is today half the size it was a century ago. Once it soaks into the limestone, it gets stored in underground caves called aquifers. The Kissimmee River flows south into Lake Okeechobee and joins the water already stored there. The crust underneath Florida was at one point part of the African region of the supercontinent Gondwana. At Illinois American Water, we remain steadfast in our commitment to keeping you informed as we work to deliver clean, safe and reliable water and wastewater services to you during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Water Flows and Nutrient Loads to the Southwest Coast of Florida - Water Flow and Nutrient Flux from Five Estuarine Rivers along the Southwest Coast of the Everglades National Park, Florida - Methodology for estimating nutrient loads discharged from the east coast canals to … Wow! The Everglades also provides critical, and often undervalued, benefits to people, called ecosystem services. Only about half of the original Everglades south of the lake remains, but the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan seeks to recreate, as much as possible, the flow of water … The effects of reduced seasonal water flows are increasing salinity in the estuaries and failure to maintain the topography. This means we have to share the water with all living things if we want the Everglades (and us too) to remain healthy! WCA 1 is also known as the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. This leads to less and less water for the Everglades system and degredation of the ecosystems there. Water is always important. Remember, in south Florida, we all share the same water source! Can you think of some ways we can conserve (save) water or make better use of the water we handle daily? Lake Okeechobee is shaped like a very large shallow bowl and when it collects too much water from rain, other lakes, and streams, it overflows its southern edge and water flows out creating the Everglades. 40001 State Road 9336 Where does it comes from? Nutrient and hydrological relationships have been studied and linked through experiments, field monitoring and historical analysis within the remaining Everglades' system. Although it is a vital nutrient in all natural systems, phosphorus is also a component of fertilizers used in agricultural and urban applications. A number of initiatives and construction projects are underway to restore the Everglades, and significant progress has been made in many areas. Allowing more water to reach Everglades National Park could also reduce flow to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries, which get saturated with too much water released from Lake Okeechobee. The historic issue is less that there has been too much or too little water in the Everglades, though more flow is needed primarily to maintain the physical elements of the landscape. Recognizing that a healthy ecosystem is vital to a healthy economy, the South Florida Water Management District – working with our local, state and federal partners – is committed to restoring, revitalizing and protecting this national treasure. These animal and plant species from other parts of the world can take advantage of the unbalanced conditions in the area, primarily due to the alterations of natural water flow and wildfire patterns, according to the NWF. 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