Everglades Restoration: What's Happened
Since the Settlement Agreement
Environmental Manager, Office of Ecosystem Planning
Hidden in all the ugly and heated arguments this Fall over
the Constitutional Amendments for restoration of the
Everglades, is the fact that much already is underway to restore
this essential ecosystem, and that preliminary assessments
seem to indicate that at least some things seem to be working.
With that said, however, much more remains to be done.
The Everglades Program
In 1994, after the settlement agreement between the state
and the federal government, the Legislature passed the
Everglades Forever Act setting out how state and regional
agencies would restore and protect the Everglades. the Act
authorized the South Florida Water Management District
(District) to implement the program, which consists of a
number of projects, regulations, and research.
The Everglades Construction Project consists of a number
of comprehensive and innovative solutions to issues of water
quality and quantity and the invasion of exotic species. Most of
the work will be carried out by the District, but the Department
has joint responsibility for more than half of the 54 projects.
Implementation requires coordination with federal, state,
regional, and local governments; the tribes; and a number of
non-governmental organizations. The Act allocated several
State funding sources for implementation, including an
agricultural privilege tax, ad valorem taxes, Alligator Alley
toll road revenues, Preservation 2000 funds, and Surface Water
Improvement and Management funds.
On November 5, Florida voters approved Constitutional
Amendments 5 and 6. Amendment 5 requires those in the
EAA who cause water pollution within the Everglades
Agricultural Area (EAA) or the Everglades Protection Area to
be primarily responsible for paying the cost of abating that
pollution. Amendment 6 cre-ated the Everglades Trust Fund
to hold funds for conservation and protection of natural
resources and abatement of pollution in the Everglades.
Amendment 4, which would have imposed a penny fee on
sugar produced in the EAA, was defeated. Attorney General
Bob Butterworth, in response to an inquiry by the District,
advised that amendments 5 and 6 are self implementing and
EC 1 9 1996
Carlton Fields Tallahassee
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Major problems confronting the Everglades
*Effects on the natural Everglades ecosystem of poor
water quality associated with discharges from the
Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA).
Fragmentation of the natural Everglades ecosystem,
and loss of land to agriculture and development
causing the loss of hydrologic and habitat connections
within and between the central Everglades and
adjacent transitional wetlands.
Changes in the timing, distribution and quantity of
water discharges into and within the fresh water
wetlands and estuarine systems have caused loss or
degradation of native plant communities and loss or
destruction of habitats for threatened and endangered
plants and animals.
Invasion of native plant communities by exotic
species, such as melaleuca and Brazilian pepper.
Timing and quantity of fresh water discharges into
marine estuaries of Lake Worth Lagoon, Florida Bay,
Manatee Bay, and Barnes Sound.
that the District has the duty to enforce the constitutional
Everglades research and monitoring
Research and monitoring are being done in three important
describing today's water quality in the Everglades
Protection Area and its tributary watersheds,
optimizing the effectiveness of regional and on-farm
practices for improving water quality, and
assessing water quality standards and classifications to
achieve and maintain the existing beneficial uses of the Area.
The Department is processing an application by the District to
Ecosystem Management News
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Office of Ecosystem Management
Fall 1996 Vol. 3 Issue 2
Ecosystem Management News Fall 1996
construct more than 40,000 acres of stormwater treatment
areas (STAs) to reduce phosphorus concentrations to at least
50 parts per billion (ppb). The STAs are a major feature of the
Everglades Construction Project. They also are intended to
restore natural hydropatterns and provide more natural water
flows from the EAA to the Water Conservation Areas. The
Department and District are working to ensure that changing
the hydropattern will not induce growth of cattails in the water
The District and the Department also are studying
alternative treatment technologies to reach a phosphorus
criterion of approximately 10 ppb in the STAs.
An important feature of the Everglades Program-and one
of the apparent current successes-is the use of agricultural
Best Management Practices (BMPs) to reduce phosphorus
loads from EAA farmlands. Recent BMP data shows a 68
percent reduction in phosphorus loads from EAA farmlands.
Further, over the past two years, the Everglades Nutrient
Removal Project (which essentially is a pilot STA) has shown
that it can reduce phosphorus levels an average of between 20
to 30 ppb.
These are encouraging results, but only time will tell if the
BMPs and the STAs can perform at this level over any length
To further this effort, the Department recommended that the
District should be issued a permit to operate and maintain its
own structures that discharge into, within, or from the
Everglades Protection Area and which are not included in the
Everglades Construction Project.
Under this permit, the District has:
established strategies and schedules to achieve and
maintain water quality standards;
agreed to evaluate programs, permits, and water quality
agreed to acquire land and build and operate water
treatment facilities; and
agreed to develop a regulatory program to improve water
The District also will monitor to ensure the accuracy of data
and to measure progress toward compliance with water quality
Federal Task Force
In 1993, federal agencies established the South Florida
Ecosystem Restoration Task Force to coordinate federal
policies, programs, and priorities for the South Florida
Ecosystem. Tribal, state and local representatives were later
added. This expanded partnership has improved the
integration of sustainable planning for both the built and
natural environments in the South Florida ecosystem.
One of the significant accomplishments of the Task Force is
development of spending priorities for the federal Farm Bill,
which appropriated some $300 million for restoration projects
in the South Florida ecosystem. Eligible projects consisted of
restoration activities in the Everglades ecosystem (including
acquisition of property within the ecosystem), and funding of
resource protection and maintenance activities in the
The top two of the Task Force's 35 ranked projects are
acquisition of additional lands in the EAA from willing sellers
and acquisition of lands within the East Coast Buffer/Water
Preserve Areas. The Department's four sponsored land
acquisition projects all ranked in the top ten-acquisition of
additional lands in the 8.5-square-mile area in southern Dade
County adjacent to the National Park, in Golden Gate Estates,
in Belle Meade, and in Fakahatchee Strand. The Department
has submitted a $34 million grant request to the U.S.
Department of the Interior to purchase 65,339 acres in Belle
Meade, Fakahatchee Strand and Southern Golden Gate
Estates. We should know by January, 1997 if our projects will
Restudy of the Central and Southern Florida
The 1992 Water Resources Development Act directs the
Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to restudy the Central and
Southern Florida Project (Project) to determine if the
project should be modified because of environmental and land
use changes over the years. The study is concentrating on
improvements to the quality of the environment, better
protection of the aquifer, and on the integrity, capability, and
conservation of urban water supplies affected by the project or
The Project, first authorized by Congress in 1948, provides
flood control; water supply for municipal, industrial, and
agricultural uses; prevention of salt-water intrusion; water
supply for Everglades National Park; and protection of fish and
wildlife. The primary system includes about 1,000 miles each
of levees and caals, 150 water control structures, and 16
major pump stations.
The completed reconnaissance phase was done at Federal
expense, but the cost of the feasibility phase will be shared
between the Federal government and the South Florida Water
Management District The Corps-established Restudy Team
will work on the feasibility phase. In an effort to expedite the
work, the Corps will rely on the Conceptual Plan for the C&SF
Project Restudy adopted by the Governor's Commission for a
Sustainable South Florida.
Governor's Commission for a Sustainable South
The Governors Commission for a Sustainable South Florida,
established in early 1994, looked at whether a healthy
Everglades ecosystem can coexist with and support a
Ecosystem Management News Fall 1996
Ecosystem Management News is published by the
Department of Environmental Protection, Office of Ecosystem
Management, Pam McVety, Executive Coordinator.
We welcome comments and suggestions, as well as contri-
butions to the News. Please contact the editor, Jim Lewis, at
the DEP, 3900 Commonwealth Blvd., MS 30, Tallahassee, FL
32399-3000, tel. (904) 488-9334 if you would like to contribute
to, or receive the News.
The text of this publication also may be found on the Eco-
system Management and Environmental Education computer
bulletin board system. The BBS may be accessed by calling
1-800-217-2934. Communication settings, 8-N-1. Terminal
emulation, ANSI. There is no cost to access it.
sustainable economy in South Florida. Governor Chiles'
Executive Order establishing the Commission recognizes that
rapid growth-including land development, water manage-
ment, and land conversion--have adversely affected water
quality in the Everglades ecosystem, and that its natural
systems no longer adequately perform the functions they once
In October 1995, the Commission presented its initial 110
recommendations and action steps which it believes will move
the South Florida region toward long-term recovery and
sustainability of its natural systems and its decaying urban
centers. The Commission's report broke new ground in
consensus building, with diametrically opposed stakeholders
realigning positions to reach sustainable solutions.
For instance, in the area of natural resources the
Commission agreed that past water management activities in
South Florida--geared predominantly toward satisfying urban
and agricultural demands-often ignored the many needs of the
natural system, particularly during drought.
For now, the Commission recommends reconsideration of
surface water management practices, examination of present
operational and conveyance capabilities, and improved
coordination between water use and water control entities to
increase water storage in the existing system.
Key Goals for Restoration
It is unlikely we can restore the Everglades to what it was
before all the man-made changes. However, there are oppor-
tunities to restore many of its functions. The list of general
objectives (Fig. 1, page 4) for the Restudy of the C&SF
adopted by the Commission represents a vision for a restored
From the Districts Central District (Orlando)
- Outreach coordinator, David Herbster and his
School Outreach Team have produced and printed
the 1996-97 Guide to DEP Environmental Speakers
- A Handbook for Educators.
This 18-page document provides teachers with a
list of speakers and topics available for students in
grades K through college. It reflects not only
speakers from the Central District but other DEP
programs which are not located in the Central District
Final preparation and printing was provided (free
of charge) by Printing Association of Florida, Gold
Star Printers and Delta Business Systems. Copies
are being distributed to schools this region.
District Director Vivian Garfein called the publication
"most impressive for a team effort by folks who had
little or no previous experience in this type of
production.' Updates will be done each year.
Southeast District (West Palm Beach) The
District has formed a team to look at pesticide
contamination of the North Fork St. Lucie River and
its tributaries. Because of agricultural activity near
the river, it has violations of State Water Quality
Standards. The team will: 1) determine the extent
and cause of pesticide contamination and its effect on
the biota, and 2) reduce contamination of surface and
ground water by implementing Integrated Pest
Management practices and Best Management
Practices on the agricultural lands, when possible.
- Melissa Meeker
Northwest District (Pensacola) Choctawhatchee
Bay Alliance receives community support -
Eighty five citizens attending the Choctawhatchee
Basin Alliance program, The Bay is a Nursery
recently in Ft. Walton Beach heard Woody Miley,
administrator of the Apalachicola National Estuarine
Research Reserve, discuss the importance of
estuarine systems to the seafood and fish industry in
the Panhandle, focusing on the need to maintain
healthy rivers to have healthy estuarine areas.
Other staff, Chips Kirschenfeld and Ryan Heise
(seagrass propagation), Nadine Craft (shoreline
restoration), and Dennis Peters (redfish propagation
efforts) discussed projects in the Choctawhatchee
Bay area. The intent of each project is to develop low
cost, low technology ways to solve problems that can
be implemented by citizens.
Ecosystem Management News Fall 1996
Fig. 1. General Planning Objectives for the C&SF Restudy
* Improve habitat quality and heterogeneity.
* Improve connectivity and reduce fragmentation of habitats.
* Provide the spatial extent of natural areas required to support the mosaic habitat characteristic of the pre-drainage Everglades
* Improve and protect habitat quality, diversity, and biodiversity in coastal and associated marine ecosystems.
* Provide for sustainable populations of native plant and animal species, with special attention to species of special concern or
threatened and endangered species.
* Restore and, where appropriate, improve functional quality of natural systems (including wetlands and uplands).
* Reduce the spatial extent of invasive non-native species to the extent that they do not affect the natural ecosystem.
* Halt or reverse the conditions causing the spread of native species that are threatening (and perhaps dominating) areas as a result
of disturbances such as nutrient enrichment.
* Restore more natural hydroperiods, including associated sheetflow.
* Provide more natural quality and quantity, timing and distribution of fresh water flow to and through the natural Everglades.
* Provide more natural quality and quantity, timing and distribution of fresh water flow to estuaries and coral reef ecosystems.
* Ensure adequate water supply and flood protection for urban, natural, and agricultural needs.
* Regain lost storage capacity.
* Restore more natural organic and marl soil-formation processes and arrest soil subsidence.
* Improve water quality, including reduction of toxins, and ensure appropriate water quality consistent with designated uses,
including restoration and protection of the natural systems.
* Control salt water intrusion into fresh water aquifers.
* Integrate the Project with local stormwater, wastewater, and other water management functions.
* Establish levels of provided flood protection in terms of frequency, depth, and duration.
* Reduce damages from flooding to public and private property.
* Provide water management that supports economic diversity and sustainability derived from the natural and developed systems.
* Enhance economic opportunities consistent with sustainable marine ecosystems.
* Protect and preserve cultural and archaeological resources and values.
* Increase recreational opportunities, consistent with sustainable natural systems.
From the Districts -- Northeast District (Jacksonville) To address water-quality issues in the northern St.
Johns shellfish harvesting area, Ecosystem Management Coordinator Jan Brewer and a local group have developed
several well-defined recommendations to improve the science behind water-quality assessment and to better involve
state agencies, local governments and area citizens.
In 1994 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration identified fecal coliform levels in violation of its standards. The DEP
reclassified the shellfish beds to satisfy FDA requirements, As a result, citizens and agency representatives formed the
Guana, Tolomato, Matanzas Shellfish and Water Quality Task Force, which prepared 26 recommendations, evaluating
current practices and suggesting how to improve them.
"By bringing state agency representatives together with citizens, university researchers and local government
officials, we are making a cultural change we share information instead of fighting for ownership of it," Brewer said.
Since other Florida counties have faced water-quality issues, task force members anticipate that this program can be a
model for how Florida's citizens, counties, universities, and state agencies can work as partners to restore and improve
power to the people
The 1997 Florida Energy Conference -- January 17-18, 1997, North Miami
Beach, Florida. Topics include: Sustainability for Florida's Future The Efficiency
Alternatives More. Information: Contact Project for an Energy Efficient Florida