Restore the Everglades
For the last 30+ years, people have been talking about how to “re-plumb” the Everglades. Today, the water management issues in south Florida are as complex as ever.
In January 2016, record rainfall caused Lake Okeechobee to reach dangerously high levels. To protect the lake’s system of dikes from failing, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began pumping huge quantities of water into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers. This was a solution that could cause problems on both coasts, including fish kills and seagrass die-off.
As part of an emergency relief plan, Governor Rick Scott requested the Army Corps of Engineers to release water south into the Everglades. The Corps of Engineers, along with state agencies, worked together to release the water and help relieve some of the strain on the rivers.
In December 2016, President Obama signed the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act into law, authorizing $1.95 billion for the crucial Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) and $113 million for Picayune Strand water flow restoration in Collier County. CEPP is an important step toward facilitating the flow and treatment of water south of Lake Okeechobee into the Everglades, reducing the need for water releases to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuary systems that have resulted in extensive habitat and fisheries damages.