The South Florida Water Management District, in response to recent erroneous reports, has released a “Get the Facts” about the continued improvement of water quality in the Everglades.
Sugarcane farmers have been a key part of that success. Over the last two decades, farmers in the Everglades Agricultural Area have helped reduce phosphorus levels by an average of 55 percent a year, significantly exceeding what is required by law.
Here are the facts:
- Water monitoring stations in Everglades National Park, the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge and the Water Conservation Areas show at least 90 percent of the Everglades now meets clean water quality standards for levels of phosphorus of 10 parts per billion or less.
- Water delivered to the Everglades continues getting cleaner because of considerable existing federal and state permits, all tools of the Clean Water Act.
- Florida’s 1994 Everglades Forever Act mandates the effective use of a combination of water quality improvement tools, such as Stormwater Treatment Areas, to ensure water flowing to the Everglades Protection Area meets water quality standards. In addition, the Lake Okeechobee Protection Act requires operations of 35 structures around the lake be consistent with reducing nutrients, including restricting “backpumping” into the lake.
- The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has developed Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs) designed as blueprints to further improve water quality. BMAPs employ a combination of permits, agricultural best management practices and related tools to achieve their goals.
- Working together, these efforts have ensured water in Everglades National Park is cleaner than it has been in generations and meets water quality requirements. Today, water sent south to restore historic flows into Everglades National Park and Florida Bay is clean.
Source: South Florida Water Management District