I am often asked, “What do we do about the Everglades?”
Here are the short answers:
- The issues that plague our water system were created by the everyday use by farmers and homeowners alike. No one group is to blame.
- The flood control system built after the Great Flood of 1947 must be re-built to fix environmental damage.
- The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Project (CERP) and related projects will fix the problem.
- I have consistently fought for funding and policy to achieve CERP, etc. and, undeniably, more progress has been made in the last five years than any similar period in Florida history.
The State of Florida has taken significant steps to address the releases from Lake Okeechobee within the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan and the Legacy Florida Act. I will always advocate for science-based solutions and collaboration that shows real results for Florida’s environment. Over my 8 years in the Florida House, I was critically involved in the funding and policymaking for Everglades Restoration.
Not only do the Everglades, Lake Okeechobee, and natural springs serve as a major source of both drinking water for residents and recreation for tourists – they serve as a natural resource for the production of goods in our state – grown on our land over generations. We must protect and preserve our resources as these areas both feed us, create and sustain jobs in agriculture, fisheries, and manufacturing, but they are also stellar destinations for our tourists. These are some of the most complex political issues our State faces and I have an overwhelming record of facing these challenges head on, negotiating solutions, and gaining near unanimous, bi-partisan support for the resolutions presented.
The history of the Everglades and the challenges we face are complex. Here are some quick facts to consider:
- Everglades National Park only represents about 25% of the southern Everglades and is a fraction of the entire Everglades, which begins in Shingle Creek near Disney World.
- In the “Great Flood” of 1947, all of the land west of present-day I-95 was covered in floodwater, including Fort Lauderdale, Davie, Miami Lakes, and Hialeah. This area of former Everglades (nearly 50% of the southern Everglades) is currently drained and protected from flood and is home to roughly 3 million residents. This water must be sent somewhere else, currently to our coastal estuaries.
- The 1947 flood also left the Kissimmee Valley inundated, with the Kissimmee River reaching a width of 6 miles at some points.
- The Central & South Florida Flood Control System (C&SF) was built to prevent this flood damage in the future and the discharges to coastal estuaries were a designed feature of the flood control plan.
- Roughly 1/3 of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) has already been acquired by the public for restoration and stormwater treatment.
- The EAA is the only area that pays two real estate taxes to the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) for Everglades restoration. This per acre tax is paid to build and maintain the Stormwater Treatment Areas to treat all of the stormwater leaving the farm fields.
- While the blue-green algae are in the water column in Lake Okeechobee and enter the coastal estuaries during discharges, it undeniably gorges itself on human stormwater and wastewater once it reaches the coast.
Please review these resources for more information about these challenges:
(Direct connections to the Florida Channel recordings are not allowed for political purposes. However, on 02/22/2017 Matt gave a presentation to the Florida House Natural Resources & Public Lands Subcommittee regarding Everglades Restoration)