Prior to the construction of the Okeechobee Waterway and the Central and South Florida Project (C&SF Project), almost the entire outflow from Lake Okeechobee went south to the Everglades, and its level was controlled by the elevation of the southern rim of the lake. When the lake levels got higher than the elevation of the southern rim (about 19.2 feet above sea level), water would spill out over the southern rim and flow southward. After the construction of the C&SF Project, lake levels were lowered to protect the surrounding communities from flooding, so today, whenever the lake rises above its regulation schedule, nearly all of the excess water is diverted to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries, which is the way the C&SF Project was designed to operate. Decreasing the flows to the estuaries requires a fundamental retooling of the C&SF Project. This is why short-term actions do not result in much improvement and why multiple projects are needed to make significant improvements in the estuaries.
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