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We must tell this story, the Everglades story, in a way the

American people can understand. They will save the Everglades."

Nathaniel P. Reed  (1933-2018)


America’s Everglades are in danger, and we’re running out of time to save one of the most ecologically diverse biospheres on the planet. So what’s the issue? Why can’t we just restore the Everglades and ensure its survival for generations to come?


The Everglades comprise the largest subtropical wetland ecosystem in North America and are recognized as one of the most important on the planet. They are a World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve.

It’s why we fight so hard.

Everglades restoration is centered around four guiding principles for water: quality, quantity, direction, and timing. Because man destroyed the natural system, to save her requires a man-made solution. 


In 2000, the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) was signed into law by then-Gov Jeb Bush and then-President Bill Clinton with overwhelming bipartisan support. All stakeholders, including Big Sugar and agriculture were at the table and agreed to it. 


Since then, those same special interests have worked to stop or slow down all four principles. Because for nearly two decades progress was horribly slow, greater consequences are being felt today. 


The manipulation of water in South Florida over the past 100 years has created an environmental crisis today, leading to the near collapse of three nationally-vital estuaries.


The Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers are inundated with toxic and polluted freshwater from Lake Okeechobee, causing toxic algae blooms, seagrass die-offs, and fish kills while the Everglades and the third estuary, Florida Bay, are starved of the natural freshwater flow they desperately need.

We’re running out of time to save one of the most ecologically diverse biospheres on the planet. So, what’s the issue? Why can’t we just restore the Everglades and ensure its survival for generations to come?



The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan – referred to often as CERP– was authorized by Congress in 2000 as a plan to “restore, preserve, and protect the South Florida ecosystem while providing for other water-related needs of the region, including water supply and flood protection.” At a cost of more than $10.5 billion and with a 35+ year timeline, this is the largest hydrologic restoration project on the planet.


A unique state and federal partnership guides the interagency plan, including a 50-50 cost share between the two. That means for anything to move forward, advocates are forced to work with myriad agencies and regulatory bodies with completely different processes for each – including ensuring adequate funding levels to get these projects online.


Originally designed to “save the Everglades,” which required roughly 10-12 projects, CERP exploded into 68 projects to appease stakeholders with a different agenda than saving the ecosystem. Most of these taxpayer-funded projects will create additional water supply for agriculture, sugarcane, and booming population centers from new development. 



Our efforts center around those projects that work to fix the broken water management system – to halt toxic discharges to the coasts and get clean freshwater flowing again to the Everglades and down to Everglades National Park and Florida Bay, the headwaters of the Florida Keys.


But 800-square miles of very thirsty sugarcane directly below a 730-square mile Lake Okeechobee is physically and politically blocking the historic flow of water from the lake into the Everglades. Today, the Everglades receives less than half the water it needs to survive.


Clean water is the lifeblood for a healthy Everglades, so this vital project is the very heart of restoration of the Everglades. It was conditionally authorized in the federal Water Resources Development Act of 2000 as the #2 project of the 68 components of CERP. 


The Water Resources Law of 2017 (Laws of Florida, Chapter 2017-10, Senate Bill 10) directs the expedited design and construction of the EAA Reservoir and Treatment Project.


The project includes a combination of canals, man-made filtration marshes to clean the pollution, and a storage reservoir—all intended to increase the quantity and improve water quality in America’s Everglades. As are all CERP projects, it is a 50-50 partnership between the State of Florida and the federal government, including funding and construction projects.

There are two primary agencies tasked with bringing the project online: The South Florida Water Management District and the US Army Corps of Engineers.​


The District has dedicated funding necessary and construction work has already begun on widening the canals and constructing the filtration marshes. You can follow the South Florida Water Management District’s portion of their progress on the project RIGHT HERE


Because we are forced to work around two politically powerful sugar companies – Florida Crystals and US Sugar – and because that water is far too polluted to be sent straight into the Everglades, we need land dedicated for water storage and treatment.


Existing canals from the lake will need to be widened and deepened to move massive amounts of water. The water will be conveyed to a new above-ground reservoir that can only be placed in the EAA (there is no other option) and is nowhere near towns or people. This will be a dynamic reservoir, so water will flow in and out at different times and for different reasons.


During heavy rains, where toxic and polluted Lake Okeechobee water would otherwise be discharged to both coasts of Florida, this new southern outlet will take that water south to the reservoir. 


In winter months and during drought, the Everglades will have that water to send south, keeping the wetlands hydrated, and making its way down to Everglades National Park and Florida Bay, the terminus of the Everglades.


But that Lake O water is far too polluted to just send straight to the Everglades. So, land is needed that will serve as cleansing filtration marshes to filter out the harmful pollutants (phosphorous, primarily). Only then can that water be released into the system.


Think of it like this: Catch, clean, release.

Historical, current, and restored flow of freshwater.

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