BRIEF EVERGLADES & LAKE OKEECHOBEE HISTORY

Historical Everglades

Lake Okeechobee was the natural conduit of surface waters from the lake system to its north and passed large volumes south into the Everglades. Hurricanes of 1926 and 1928 resulted in major loss of lives in the Lake Okeechobee region. These tradegies led to the US Congress approving the construction of the Herbert Hoover Dike [HHD] around most of the lake. The placement of the HHD reduced the surface area of the lake by about 30%. Also, in the 1920, a ditch the C-44 canal was dug from the eastern shore of Lake Okeechobee into the south fork of the St. Lucie River.

Partition of historical Everglades

The 1940's-1950's Central & South Florida Project [C&SF] drained over 700,000 acres south of the lake  [light blue] creating prime agricultural lands the EAA [brown] , partitioned the northern Everglades into water catchment areas [WCA's] in blue, and the Everglades National Park [ENP] in yellow. Coastal southeast and southwestern sections [ white areas] developed into major urban areas. The lake's drainage input of 4,500 square miles is depicted in green. All these now are managed by the SFWMD. The C&SF project was implemented


USACE proposed connecting the lake to the WCA's as PLAN 6

USACE proposed plan 6 in 1980's.

This plan envisioned a broad swatch of EAA lands restored back to a river of grass similar to its original Everglades wetland form and function. The intent was to relieve the damaging discharges to the east and west excess lake water outlets, cleanse this water and transfer its flow south to reconnect the historical flow  first into the WCA's , then ENP and finally Florida Bay. It was never implemented. 

PLAN 6 by River's Coalition modified as 6X by Gilio in 2014

Gilio Environmental's PLAN 6X

The River's Coalition plan was a revival of the original PLAN 6, similar to the SFWMD's River of Grass concept. Gilio's modifications included a 7-mile long adjustable weir on the HHD allowing Lake stage control, slow overflow, muck settlement reducing  excess nutrients and suspended solids [muck] leading to additional filtration in expansed emergent littoral wetland marshes creating new aquatic habitats for bass, ducks and other aquatic birds.

 PLAN 6/6X is large enough to cleanse Lake Okeechobee's water to Federal standards prior to entry into WCA's  and would have stopped all discharges to the St. Lucie River, restore normal flow to the Caloosahatchee River and clean water to ENP.  It was never implemented.

Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan [CERP] 2000

CERP is a collection of 68 projects approved by Congress in 2000 as a 50/50 dollar split with the State of Florida. Upon CERP completion ~2050, about 18% reduction in Lake discharges to the northern river outlets will result. Central Everglades Planning Project [CEPP] is a component of CERP. The total coast is ~ $20 Billion. It is currently [2018] being implemented. 

Component G [southern reservoir] 2018

SFWMD's Southern Reservoir [Component G of CERP]

Component G - a reservoir and water treatment structure-  has been approved by USACE, US House of Representatives, awaits US Senate approval of 2018 WRDA bill. Upon approval, President Trump said he will sign bill; however funds must still be appropriated. 

Project envisions 17,500 acres of State owned land [ blue & pink areas] to store 0.240 MAF [78 billion gallons]of L. Okeechobee water and treat 0.36 MAF/yr. clean enough to flow into WCA3A.  If successful, and there is concern by some,  Gilio Environmental included, that such a large flow south will be able to meet water quality standards.

But if met,  then an additional ~ 33% reduction  of discharges to northern rivers would result at total cost of ~ $1.4Billion.  Combined with CERP & CEPP about 55% volume reduction could be achieved.