Communities all across South Florida are suffering from an ecological and economic crisis due to water pollution and wasteful management of water that is needed to protect America’s Everglades. Nearly 400 billion gallons of fresh water have been wasted to tide this year alone.
This is water that should be stored, treated and re-routed back to the Everglades providing for the needs of the environment and the water supply for 8 million Floridians. The polluted water discharges from Lake Okeechobee are destroying seagrass and oyster habitat in the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie River estuaries and leading to algae blooms that often become toxic, rendering water un-fishable and un-swimmable.
To the south, Florida Bay and Everglades National Park have been deprived of that fresh water, resulting in a massive, 50,000-acre, die-off of seagrass habitat that provides essential fish habitat for the region. We have let this happen to one of our most treasured National Parks—a World Heritage Site, an International Biosphere Reserve, and a Wetland of International Importance.
The solution to this problem is simple. The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) spells out a series of projects that replace lost water storage capacity across the ecosystem. Key among these projects is the Central Everglades Planning Project—which is up for Congressional authorization in 2016—and the EAA Reservoir that will reconnect the flow of water from Lake Okeechobee back to the Everglades, reducing the harmful polluted-water discharges to the east and west.