everglades restoration

A bill that looks to "un-muddy" the mission of Florida's main environmental land acquisition program could potentially affect the plan for an Everglades reservoir.

Amy Green / WMFE

Gov. Rick Scott waded into the legislative battle over Everglades restoration Monday.

The governor gave support to a revised Senate water-storage plan and called for lawmakers to financially help the federal government speed repairs to the dike around Lake Okeechobee.

Read more about the debate to restore the Everglades: River Of Grass, Dying Of Thirst

Kate Stein / WLRN

A controversial plan to build a reservoir that would help address damaging water discharges in the Everglades ecosystem is one step closer to being enacted — thanks to revisions that take into account the concerns of farmers in the Everglades Agricultural Area.

On Wednesday, Florida’s Senate Appropriations Committee approved a revised version of Senate Bill 10. The bill aims to alleviate blue-green algae on Florida’s coasts by reducing the amount of water that's discharged to the coasts from Lake Okeechobee.

Negron Trims Controversial Water Plan

Apr 5, 2017

Senate President Joe Negron on Tuesday toned down a wide-ranging water bill intended to protect his district's waterways, as he sought to make it more palatable to House leaders and people living south of Lake Okeechobee.

Kate Stein / WLRN

What makes water managers celebrate?

New pipes, of course!

So South Florida Water Management District employees were stoked Monday when a flatbed truck with a massive aluminum pipe -- about 60 feet long and five feet in diameter -- finally arrived at a big district construction site southwest of Homestead. The pipe is one of three to be used in a project providing Florida Bay with more of the fresh water it desperately needs.

Kate Stein / WLRN

Artist Jenna Efrein loves the Everglades. Since moving to South Florida, she's spent a lot of time exploring the ecosystem and learning about the challenges it faces. That passion -- and 10 years of gymnastics experience -- have shaped an installation of her work on display now at the Wynwood Building.

Peter Haden / WLRN

Hundreds of people packed a town hall meeting in Pahokee Friday with Florida Senate President Joe Negron. They say his proposal to build a 60,000-acre reservoir on prime farmland would be a plague to their region.

“The devastation from the loss of jobs is unimaginable at this point,” said lifelong Pahokee resident Lynda Moss. Her family owns a trucking business in the region.

[Read More about the Everglades and the efforts to restore it: River of Grass, Dying of Thirst]

The lingering nature of water through the Everglades has been matched by the slow progress toward the massive goal of reviving the region with more water and cleaner water.

It’s been 17 years since President Bill Clinton signed into law the bill that included the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. That began the modern day effort to restore the Everglades after a century of draining and redirecting the water to create today’s South Florida.

More than half way through the expected time frame for the work only a half dozen projects are underway.

Amy Green / WMFE

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is reversing its stance and now says it must follow a schedule calling for a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee in 2021.

The corps had said it could accelerate the project aimed at improving water flow after toxic algae blooms last year prompted emergency declarations in four counties.

Colonel Jason Kirk now says the reservoir must wait.

Amy Green / WMFE

U.S. Sugar Corp. says it would honor a previous agreement putting land south of Lake Okeechobee toward Everglades restoration.

U.S. Sugar staunchly has opposed a reservoir on the land, aimed at improving water flow after toxic algae blooms last year prompted emergency declarations in four counties.

But spokeswoman Judy Sanchez says if the Legislature approves the plan the company would honor a previous agreement authorizing the state to buy 153,000 acres.

Sugar Farmers ‘At War’ With Senate President Negron

Mar 7, 2017

Farmers and agricultural businesses south of Lake Okeechobee said Monday that Senate President Joe Negron is at "war" with them in his push for state lawmakers to back a $2.4 billion reservoir project.

Amy Green / WMFE

Karson Turner reaches into a grassy row of sugar cane. He grips a stalk, jointed like bamboo, and breaks it, revealing the sweetness inside.

"This will go into the mill, which you can just about see if you take about 20 steps backward you can see the smokestacks. And those get grinded, that raw sucrose that gets pushed out becomes the basis of table sugar that you and I consume all the time," says Turner. 

Amy Green / WMFE

Among the cow pastures and citrus groves of Florida's heartland north of Lake Okeechobee, patches of wetlands serve as kidneys for the Everglades.

"It filters out all of the impurities, in this case we're talking about nutrients, phosphorous in particular," says Ernie Marks of the South Florida Water Management District.

Marks steps through the grass framing the expanse of reeds and rushes. The vegetation sieves from the water the nutrient responsible for toxic algae blooms. Wading birds like egrets flap among the cabbage palms.

Kate Stein / WLRN

If you scoop a glassful of water from the heart of the Everglades, that water is as pure and clear as the water that flows from your tap.

That’s because chances are good your tap water comes from the Everglades.

One in three Floridians -- more than eight million of us -- gets drinking water from the Biscayne Aquifer a few feet below the southeastern Everglades. The ecosystem acts as a natural filter, removing excess nutrients and keeping out seawater.

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