Everglades restoration

A project intended to help address blue-green algae outbreaks took a major step forward Wednesday as the U.S. Senate passed a bill that includes a proposal for an Everglades water storage reservoir.

Senators approved the bill, which includes many other water-related projects nationwide, by a margin of 99-1.

Everglades advocates are telling Congress to get moving on a major restoration project needed to help prevent future algae blooms like the ones currently choking inland and coastal waterways in Florida. 

When it comes to the health of the Everglades, scientists often look to the birds. The healthier the ecosystem, the bigger the populations of wading birds like wood storks, spoonbills, egrets and herons.

Scientists say this year is shaping up to be a very good season for wading bird nesting, on the heels of a 2017 nesting season where some bird populations grew by 50 percent or more.

A reservoir project that could help address water challenges in the Everglades is one step closer to being built.

Congressional committees on Thursday approved a bill that, if passed, would authorize construction of a $1.4 billion water storage reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee. The reservoir would help reduce water discharges from Lake Okeechobee that contribute to algae blooms on Florida’s coasts; it would also increase water flow south to Florida Bay.

The South Florida Water Management District announced Thursday that its board has approved handing off a design for a water storage reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee to its federal partner.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will now begin reviewing the tentatively selected reservoir plan which, in conjunction with a state restoration strategies plan, provides 350,000 acre-feet of above-ground storage.

Wood storks, roseate spoonbills, ibises and egrets are among the many birds that fly, paddle and wade through the Everglades.

They draw visitors, particularly photographers, to the ecosystem. But the Everglades' birds are important for another reason: The health of wading bird communities says a lot about progress on Everglades restoration.

The State of Florida is forging ahead with a plan to build a water reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee.  WFSU's Lynn Hatter talked about it with Audubon Florida’s Celeste DiPalma about a new report that lays out options for steering more water to the places that need it and less to the places that don’t.

Everglades National Park is a World Heritage site, and it’s under siege from drought, invasive species and sea-level rise. 

The state agency overseeing Everglades restoration is threatening to stop participating in congressionally mandated scientific reviews of its progress.

The South Florida Water Management District says it is considering withdrawing financially from the National Academies of Sciences and seeking scientific guidance elsewhere.

Spokesman Randy Smith says the scientists are overstepping their authority and threatening to slow Everglades restoration by weighing in on budgetary and engineering issues.

By scaling back the cost and size of a proposed reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee, Senate President Joe Negron appears to be making progress with critics. But a deal seems far from certain.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran says changes to the Senate’s plan to buy land south of Lake Okeechobee make the proposal better, but he’s refusing to cave on one big issue: whether to borrow money to finance the system.

Questions Linger Over Negron’s Water Priority

Apr 2, 2017
Daylina Miller / WUSF

Senate President Joe Negron's priority of creating a reservoir to protect rivers and estuaries east and west of Lake Okeechobee appears to have a murky future.

Senate President Joe Negron’s $2.4 billion plan to protect South Florida waterways from another toxic-algae sliming received a Luke-warm legislative debut. Behind the scenes, the South Florida Water Management District was launching torpedoes.

Florida water experts said the state needs to store water* and clean up polluted water sources in South Florida. But, state participants in the process continue to bicker over the way forward.

Planning Begins On Reservoir North of Lake Okeechobee

Jan 9, 2017
NASA EARTH OBSERVATORY

Planning is underway on a reservoir north of Lake Okeechobee amid bitter debate over the state’s water management and a proposed reservoir south of the lake.

Everglades advocates are calling for the construction of a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee. Their visit to central Florida on Thursday is part of a 20-city bus tour promoting the reservoir.

The reservoir would alleviate large discharges of excess, polluted water from Lake Okeechobee to coastal estuaries, where the influxes have triggered toxic algae blooms.

It’s part of a multi-billion-dollar federal restoration plan, which includes the state as a partner.

With just 15 days until Election Day, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump kicked off a three-day tour of Florida cities Sunday with a rally in Naples.