Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Scope of investigation and...
 History of the Everglades drainage...
 Area surveyed
 Geology and ground water of the...
 Topographic survey
 The soil conservation survey
 Water conditions in the Everglades...
 Water-control recommendations
 Cost summary
 Maintenance of water-control...
 Recommendations for land use and...

Group Title: Bulletin - University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station ; no. 442
Title: Soils, geology, and water control in the Everglades region
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00026438/00002
 Material Information
Title: Soils, geology, and water control in the Everglades region
Series Title: Bulletin / University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station ;
Physical Description: 168 p. : ill., charts, maps ; 23 cm. +
Language: English
Creator: Jones, Lewis A
Publisher: University of Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla
Subject: Soils -- Florida -- Everglades   ( lcsh )
Geological surveys -- Florida -- Everglades   ( lcsh )
Climate -- Everglades (Fla.)   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Statement of Responsibility: prepared under direction of Lewis A. Jones.
Additional Physical Form: Electronic reproduction of copy from George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida also available.
General Note: Cover title.
General Note: "In cooperation with U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service, H.H. Bennett, chief"--T.p.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00026438
Volume ID: VID00002
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: notis - AEN6170
alephbibnum - 000925519
oclc - 01727563

Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page 1
    Table of Contents
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
    Scope of investigation and report
        Page 6
        Page 7
    History of the Everglades drainage district
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
    Area surveyed
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
    Geology and ground water of the Everglades region
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
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        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
    Topographic survey
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
    The soil conservation survey
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
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        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
    Water conditions in the Everglades region
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
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        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
    Water-control recommendations
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
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        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
    Cost summary
        Page 133
        Page 134
    Maintenance of water-control works
        Page 135
    Recommendations for land use and management
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
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Full Text

Bulletin 442


in cooperation with
H. H. BENNETT, Chief

Soils, Geology, and Water

Control in the Everglades Region

Prepared under the direction of
Division of Drainage and Water Control,
Soil Conservation Service

Single copies free to Florida residents upon request to

March, 1948

Contents Page
Scope of Investigation and Report .............................. ................ 6
History of the Everglades Drainage District ...................................... 8
A rea Surveyed ....................................-...................----.... ........... .................. 15
A agriculture ......................................... ...................... ........... ............- .... 18
Geology and Ground Water of the Everglades Region ............................... 21
The Floridian Plateau ................................................ ..... ................ 21
Structure, Stratigraphy, and Ground Water ....---......---..................--- 21
P liocene R ocks ....................................... ..... ...................................... 26
Caloosahatchee M arl ............................................................................... 26
Tam iam i Form ation ............ .......................... ..................... 28
Pleistocene R ocks ................................. ............................................... .. 30
A nastasia Form ation .................... .................... .... ...... .... ........... 31
M iam i Oolite ................................................................... ..... 32
Fort Thom pson Form action .................. ........................................... 32
Pam lico Form action ............................ ..... .... .. ....................... 33
Talbot and Penholoway Formations ................................................... 33
Latest Pleistocene and Recent Rocks ................................................... 34
L ake F lirt M arl ............................................................ ...................... 34
O organic Soils ...................................... ......................... ..................... 35
Topographic D evelopm ent ....................................................................... 35
G eologic H history ................. .................................................................... 36
P liocene E poch .......................................................................................... 36
P leistocene E poch .................................................................................... 36
Nebraskan glacial stage; Aftonian interglacial stage; Kansan
glacial stage; Yarmouth interglacial stage; Illinoian
glacial stage; Sangamon interglacial stage; Wisconsin
g lacial stag e .................... ............ ......... .......... ........................ 38
R recent E poch ...................................................................... ................ 41
Clim ate ........... ....................... .............................. 42
Tem peratures ........................................ ............... ........... 42
Sunshine, Wind, and Humidity .................-..... ...................... 43
R rainfall ....................... ....................................... ........ ......... ................... 44
V vegetation ................- ... ................ ........ ..... ................... 46
T opographic Survey .................................................... ..... ..-...................... 49
The Base Map ....-............--.................................---- ................ ..--- ---------- 50
L evening ....................................... .. .......... .......... .. ..... .... 50
Special Transportation U sed ........................................ ....... ............ 52
The Soil Conservation Survey .................... ... ..... .............. ........... 55
Map of Physical Land Conditions ........................ ........................ 56
Su rvey M eth ods ............................................................................................. 58
Soils and Their Capability ......................................... ................... ..... 60
Peat and Muck Soils ---...................... ...........- .....-- ........-- 61
Marls and Calcareous Sandy Soils ............................ ................ 73
W et Sandy Soils ...... .. ......... .................. ............. ........................... 74
Gray or Dark Gray Imperfectly Drained Sandy Soils with Sub-
soils Containing Some Clay .-..................-.......:--.....-...... .---... 75
Gray Imperfectly Drained Sand with Brown Hardpan Subsoil.... 76
Excessively Drained Incoherent Sands ............................................. 76
Excessively Drained Rocklands, Sandy and Clay Phases ............ 76
M miscellaneous Lands ............................................ .. ........ 77
Water Conditions in the Everglades Region ........................................... 77
Sources and Quality of W ater .......................... ............ ....................... 77
Subsidence of Organic Soils ......................................... ........-....--......... 79
Organizations for W ater Control ........................................... ............... 81
Existing Water-Control Works .................................... ...-.....------ ....... 84
L ake O keechobee ......................... ....... ..... ......... ....... ................ 85
Caloosahatchee River ..... .............. ............................. ..................- 85
St. Luicie Canal ........ ................... ................... ............... 86
W est Palm Beach Canal ........................................ ............................. 86
H illsboro Canal .................................. ................. .... ............ 88
N orth N ew River Canal ..................................................... .............. 91
Miami Canal --.. --.........-------- ----........--....- --..---- .......-.. 92
C ross C anal ......................................................... ................................. 93
B olles C an al .. ........................................................ ......................... 94
South N ew River Canal ................................... .............. ................ 94
T am iam i C anal .......................................................................... ........... 95
Uncontrolled Canals of Everglades Drainage District ................ 95
Works of Sub-Drainage Districts and Comparable Enterprises.... 96

Water-Control Recommendations .............................-....................... 97
O objective ......................................... ........................................................ 97
Surface Runoff . ............... ......... .................. ..... ......... 98
M measured Runoff ............................ ..... ............. .. .... .. 98
R rainfall ........................... .... ... .......... ............. .................... .................. 102
Design Rates Used ................... ............... ............... .......... 102
Irrigation Requirements ................................................... .. 103
Evaporation and Transpiration ....................................................... 103
Pum ping Experience ................................... .... ......................... 104
Relation of Rock Structure to Water Control ..................................... 106
Control W works Planned ......................... ......................................... 107
General Plan of Improvements .................................. 107
W ater-Conservation Areas ... ...................................... ............... 108
W est Palm Beach Canal Area ........................................ .................. 109
Sand Cut Area ........................... ..................... 111
H illsboro Canal Area ....................................... .. .... ........... 111
North New River Canal Area .................... .............................. 112
M iam i Canal A rea .......................... .. ....--- -- .............-.... .. 113
New Areas South of Bolles Canal ......................... .......... ............ 113
South New River Canal Area .............................................................. 114
Cypress Creek Canal Area .......................... ...................... 115
Eastern Dade County ............... ..................... ......-..-. .. 116
Construction Estimates .......................... .................. 116
Basis of Hydraulic Calculations .................. ............................ 117
Ditch and Levee Specifications ....................................... .................. 117
Water-Conservation Areas ......................... .......... 118
West Palm Beach Canal ............... ............. .... ............ 118
Allapattah Levee and Canal ................................................ 120
H ungryland Canal ..... ....... ............................................. .... ..... .. 121
Loxahatchee Canal ............................................................. 121
Sand Cut C anals ................................................. .............................. 122
H illsboro Canal ................................. ................................................ 123
North New River Canal ................................................................. 124
Miami Canal ......................... ................. 125
Cross Canal ......................................... ............... ... ................... 126
B olles Canal .................................... ................................................... 127
C anal A .............................. ....... ........................................................ 128
C an al B .................................................................. ................................ 128
C anal C ................... .................................................... ................... .... 129
Sand Prairie Levee and Canal ................... ...... ............ 129
D evils Garden Canal ...................... ........................................................ 130
H ollow ay D ike ........................................ .............................................. 131
South New River Canal ....... ........... ...................................... 131
Cypress Creek Canal ................................................................. 131
Holloway Canals ............................................................................. 132
Water-Control Structures in Eastern Dade County ....................... 132
Cost Summary ................................................................................................. .. 133
Maintenance of Water-Control Works ...................................................... 135
Recommendations for Land Use and Management ................................... 135
General Requirements for Water Control on Farm Lands .............. 136
Land-Capability Classes ............ ..................................... ........... 139
Management of Peat and Muck soils .................... ..................... 141
Class II M uck Land .................................................................. .......... 145
Class III Peat and Muck Land ................................................... 147
Class IV Peat and M uck Land ............................................................ 149
Class V Peat Land ....................................................... 149
Class VIII Peat Land ....................................................................... 149
Management of Marl Soils .......................................... ................... 149
Class II Marl Land ...................................................... 150
Class IV M arl Land ................. .. .......................... .............. 152
Management of Rocklands (Class IV) ............................. ................... 152
M anagem ent of Sandy Land .................................................................... 160
Class II Sandy Land ............................... ......................... 160
Class III Sandy Land ........................................ 161
Class IV Sandy Land .................... ....... ... .................. 163
Class V Sandy Land ........................ ................ 164
W oodland Management ..... ..... ....................... ..................................... 164
Land Not Suitable for Cultivation, Grazing, or Forestry ................. 165
Bibliography ............. ......... .......................... ................................... 166

This report has been prepared under cooperative agreement
between the Agricultural Experiment Station, of the University
of Florida, and the Soil Conservation Service, U. S. Department
of Agriculture, with informal cooperation of staff members of
the Geological Survey, U. S. Department of the Interior, and of
the Everglades Drainage District.
The officials and technologists who have had responsible part
in planning and conducting the investigations, analyzing the data,
and formulating the conclusions presented herein, comprise the

Agricultural Experiment Station
R. V. Allison, Vice-Director in Charge, Everglades Experiment
G. D. Ruehle, Vice-Director in Charge, Subtropical Experiment
J. R. Neller, Soils Chemist
J. R. Henderson, Soil Technologist

Soil Conservation Service
Lewis A. Jones, Chief, Division of Drainage and Water Control
Roger D. Marsden, Head, Farm Drainage Section
J. G. Steele, Head, Surveys Analysis Section
C. Kay Davis, Project Supervisor, Everglades Project1
B. S. Clayton, Drainage Engineer
John C. Stephens, Drainage Engineer
M. H. Gallatin, Soil Scientist
Albert R. Stephens, Drainage Engineer 1

U. S. Geological Survey
George E. Ferguson, Hydraulic Engineer
Garald G. Parker, Geologist in Charge, Miami, Fla.

Everglades Drainage District
W. Turner Wallis, Engineer and General Manager 1
Lamar Johnson, Engineer


The Everglades region, as discussed in this bulletin, com-
prises some 7,500 square miles of land encircling Lake Okeecho-
bee and extending southward to the end of the Florida Peninsula
(Fig. 1). It consists of the Everglades Drainage District and
the land eastward thereof between West Palm Beach and Miami.
Its principal physiographic feature is the Everglades proper, a
vast, almost level plain of muck and peat soil extending south-
ward from the lake for nearly 100 miles.

o b
n\ ^

n< -*




O 40 80

Fig. 1.-Location of the Everglades Region in Florida.

Effort to drain those organic soils and develop them for agricul-
ture has been continuous through 4 decades, but the cost of the
canals was greater than the undeveloped land could pay, and
settlers to make the land into farms could not be found. Funds
were exhausted and construction was discontinued before the
canals were completed.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

The War Department has constructed flood-control works that
prevent overflow from Lake Okeechobee, but the canals dug by
the Drainage District have not been adequate. Nevertheless, by
1939 probably 125,000 acres had been developed for cropland
through construction of supplemental drainage and irrigation
works by sub-districts and privately. The greater portion of this
acreage is near Lake Okeechobee, the other along the Atlantic
Subsidence of the land surface following drainage has in-
creased the cost of development and indicated that the peaty
soils can be farmed profitably for only a limited time. Drainage
of undeveloped peat has permitted destruction of soil by uncon-
trolled fires.
As the canals operate, at times drainage for some of the
farm lands involves flooding of others, or drainage for some in-
volves drought for others. Water needed for irrigation is wasted.
Moreover, it appears that extensive and indiscriminate drain-
age threatens injury to the water supply for municipalities along
the coast, by reducing the quantity of fresh water available and
by permitting sea water to enter the cities' wells.
This conflict of interest in the extent and management of
drainage, and increase in knowledge that not all of the Ever-
glades is suited for permanent cropping created desire for a
thorough investigation of the land and water resources of this

Scope of Investigation and Report
Studies relating to water control for agricultural lands in
the Everglades region of Florida have been carried on contin-
uously since 1933 under cooperative agreements between the
Agricultural Experiment Station of the University of Florida
and the Bureau of Agricultural Engineering2 and the Soil Con-
servation Service of the U. S. Department of Agriculture. The
Everglades Project of the Soil Conservation Service was set up
in 1939 under specific appropriation of $75,000 by Congress (in
Public Act No. 159, 76th Congress) for research and demonstra-
tion work in soil conservation in the Everglades region. This
bulletin is a report on that project.
The investigations undertaken include a topographic survey,
2 When the activities of Bureau of Agricultural Engineering were divided
among other bureaus of the Department in 1939, the divisions of Drainage
Investigations and Irrigation Investigations were transferred to the Soil
Conservation Service.

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades 7

a soil conservation survey to determine the various types of land
in the Everglades Drainage District and their capabilities, sub-
surface investigations of rock structure and ground water as
related to control of water in the soil, and studies of the re-
quirements of the Everglades soils with respect to drainage and
irrigation and the effects of water control on the soil. The topo-
graphic survey had not been completed when this report was
prepared, because of extended war service by a number of the
engineers of the project staff.
The subsurface investigations were made in collaboration with
scientists of the U. S. Geological Survey. The soil names used
were correlated by the Bureau of Plant Industry, Soils, and Agri-
cultural Engineering. All activities of the project have been
conducted under cooperative agreements between the Agricul-
tural Experiment Station and Soil Conservation Service. The
results of the research are presented herein only as they affect
the use capabilities of the various land types and the water-con-
trol measures discussed.
This report presents (1) a brief history of the efforts by the
State of Florida to develop the Everglades; (2) descriptions of
the physical, agricultural, and climatic conditions of the area;
(3) information on the rock formations and geologic history of
the region; (4) descriptions of the various land types (soil, slope,
substratum conditions), together with a classification of their
use capability; (5) a statement of the extent, character, and
effectiveness of the water-control works that have been pro-
vided by Everglades Drainage District; (6) a tentative plan of
water-control improvement for the organic soils of agricultural
value south and east of Lake Okeechobee; and (7) recommen-
dations concerning crops and farming practices for the different
types of land.
Five maps too large for printing as text illustrations are used
to show the details of land capability, topography, and water-
control recommendations. These are issued as accompanying
maps. One shows the physical land conditions, including soil
types, depths of the peat and marl soils, and capability of the
various land types for cropping and other uses. This is on a
scale of 1 inch equals 1 mile and is printed in 38 sheets. An
index to this map, a generalized land-capability map, a map show-
ing the drainage districts and other organizations for water con-
trol in the region, and a map showing recommended water-con-
trol improvements are printed in 1 sheet each on a scale of 1

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

inch equals approximately 8 miles. Of the large-scale map, only
1 sheet is distributed with each copy of this bulletin, but per-
sons interested in any particular small area may obtain the sheet
covering that area by request to the Agricultural Experiment
Station at Gainesville. Full sets of the sheets have been placed
for reference in the principal libraries in the State.

History of the Everglades Drainage District
The Everglades Drainage District includes approximately 41/2
million acres of land, most of the southeastern portion of the
Florida peninsula. Formerly the flood area of the Lake Okee-
chobee reservoir and its tributary Kissimmee-Caloosahatchee
drainage basin, this region now includes an important food-pro-
ducing section. The vast area of peat is the largest known body
of organic soils in the world.
Early Spanish, French, and English explorers and early col-
onists of Florida made little if any attempt to penetrate the in-
ner portion of this region, being content to settle along the sea
coast and make sporadic expeditions into the outer edge of the
Everglades. When Florida was acquired by the United States in
1821 the inner Everglades was a region of mystery to the white
man and remained so until United States troops entered it in the
Seminole Indian War of 1835-1842. This war focused attention
of people of the territory of Florida upon the Everglades region
and gave impetus to later plans for its development.
On September 28, 1850, Congress passed the "Swamp Lands
Act" granting inundated lands to the states of their location.
By this act the Everglades region passed from Federal into State
control. The following January the Florida legislature passed
an act to secure the lands thus granted to the State by Congress.
By Act of January 6, 1855, these lands and the unsold lands
granted to the State in 1845 were placed under control of a board
of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Fund, who were re-
quired to use any funds obtained from sale of the lands for re-
claiming and improving them as provided for in the Congres-
sional Act of 1850.
Until 1879 the Trustees of the Internal Improvement Fund
and the executives of the various administrations adhered strict-
ly to the terms of the grant by Congress and the subsequent acts
of the State legislature providing for their administration, sale,
and improvement. After Governor Drew's veto of the first at-
tempted railroad land grant in 1879 the legislature forestalled

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades 9

any veto of later railroad land-grant acts by making such grants
subject to the Trust and to the provisions of the Act of January
6, 1855. Of the 15 million acres granted to the railroad com-
panies by the legislature between 1879 and 1900 to encourage
construction of railroads, upward of 8 million acres were swamp
and overflowed lands conveyed by the Trustees.
New difficulties were encountered by the Trustees in the
reconstruction period after 1865. The maturing of large obliga-
tions which the Fund could not pay caused the management of
the Fund to be placed temporarily in the hands of the United
States Court. The sale of 4 million acres of swamp and over-
flowed land to Hamilton Disston during the first term of Gov-
ernor Bloxham, beginning in 1881, permitted the Trustees to
regain control of the Fund by applying the proceeds of the sale
to the Fund's debts.
The contract between the Trustees and Hamilton Disston and
others (Atlantic and Gulf Coast Canal and Okeechobee Land Com-
pany) was the first major attempt toward drainage of the Ever-
glades. Disston and his associates agreed to drain and reclaim
all overflow lands belonging to the State south of Township 23
and east of Peace Creek, and in payment the Trustees agreed to
convey alternate sections of all lands so reclaimed, provided the
lands reclaimed were not less than 200,000 acres. The lands
covered by the contract were more than 9 million acres.
Drainage operations were begun near Kissimmee and were
continued for some years in that area. Questions concerning
those operations resulted in legislative authorization in accord-
ance with which the Governor in 1885 appointed a committee
to investigate. The committee reported that only about 80,000
acres had been reclaimed, and that the canals had not lowered
Lake Okeechobee and Kissimmee River. As a result, the Disston
contract was revised in 1888, restricting drainage operations to
the Kissimmee Valley and deeding to the company one acre of
land for each 25 cents expended on the reclamation project.
The total results of the Disston contract to the Everglades
area were the digging of Three-Mile Canal connecting Caloosa-
hatchee River with Lake Okeechobee, and another canal ex-
tending southward from Lake Okeechobee and discharging upon
the ground surface in the 'Glades. All drainage operations under
the Disston contract ceased about 1889.
Statutory grants of swamp and overflowed lands to transpor-
tation companies and others had by 1900 disposed of most of

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

the Everglades and of the other lands in the Internal Improve-
ment Fund. The numerous grants were so conflicting that by
1901 various railroad companies demanded hearings to settle
questions of priority of title under the acts. A sale by the
Trustees of 100,000 acres claimed by the companies resulted in
a suit to recover the land or the proceeds of the sale. After an
investigation of the whole history of the Internal Improvement
Fund, the Trustees published the disposition and status of all
lands granted to Florida under the Act of 1850. The Trustees
further asserted their superior title to the lands in the Fund, and
declared they would defend the title for the purpose of per-
forming the trust of drainage and reclamation. Litigation fol-
lowed, beginning in 1902. A test case resulted in an order, issued
May 2, 1907, expressly authorizing and empowering the Trustees
to sell or otherwise dispose of said lands for the purpose of using
the proceeds for drainage and reclamation.
The present drainage program in the Everglades may be said
to have begun during the administration of Governor Jennings
(1901-1905). Not only had the Trustees of the Internal Im-
provement Fund determined to issue no further deeds by virtue
of legislative land grants, but surveys were undertaken to de-
termine the feasibility of reclaiming the Everglades. 'Data were
compiled on topography, rainfall, watershed, and the character
and fertility of the soils. In 1903 a patent was issued by the
General Land Office to the State of Florida for the lands granted
by the Act of Congress in 1850, and the Commissioner of Agricul-
ture prepared a map of the Everglades region by extending the
lines of previous surveys on the east and west. This map was
adopted as official by the Trustees of the Internal Improvement
Fund in January, 1905.
To provide funds for the Everglades drainage project, addi-
tional to those obtained from sale of the lands, the Legislature
in May, 1905, created a Board of Drainage Commissioners auth-
orized to establish drainage districts and levy on the lands there
in drainage taxes not exceeding 10 cents per acre per year. This
act was declared unconstitutional by the United States Court,
but one approved in May 1907 defining the Everglades Drainage
District and levying a tax of 5 cents per acre per year was
Litigation following the enactment of the 1905 drainage law
emphasized the State's lack of sufficient technical information
for determining the feasibility and practicability of draining the

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades 11

Everglades, and aid was requested of the United States Depart-
ment of Agriculture. The Office of Experiment Stations of that
Department undertook the preparation of a report and plan of
drainage for the Everglades. Field parties spent the winters of
1906-07 and 1907-08 in determining topographic and soil charac-
teristics of the 'Glades. The report was released in 1909, out-
lining a plan of drainage in general similar to that existing today.
Impetus given the actual drainage program by Governor
Broward's administration resulted in the launching of two large
dredges in 1906 and the letting of contracts for constructing two
more in 1908.
Land sales that followed the settlement of litigation regard-
ing title to the Everglades land provided a million-dollar fund
with which to carry on the drainage program. Further assurance
that funds would be available resulted from agreements between
the Trustees and corporate and individual owners of large tracts,
that suits to enjoin collection of the 5-cent acreage tax would
be dismissed, and thereafter the owners would pay all drainage
taxes. The appointment of a chief drainage engineer of the
State was followed by the letting of a dredging contract which
increased the number of dredges from four to eight and greatly
increased the rate of excavation.
Active drainage operations were reflected in an increase in
the number of Everglades land owners from about a dozen in
1909 to 15,000 in 1911. The price of State lands advanced from
$2 per acre in 1909 to $15 in 1910. This activity in land markets
increased the demand for even more rapid progress in the recla-
mation work. Responding to this demand, the legislature in
1913 enacted laws levying acreage taxes based on benefits, and
authorized the Everglades Drainage District to issue bonds sup-
ported by anticipated proceeds of the acreage tax.
By 1912 it had become apparent that the canals planned
would be insufficient to control Lake Okeechobee or drain the
lands and that more adequate plans should be made. An Ever-
glades Engineering Commission (Isham Randolph, chairman)
was employed to make the necessary studies, and in October
of 1913 reported engineering recommendations that have served
as the basic plan for all subsequent drainage work by the Dis-
trict. The report stated, in part: "The existing works and con-
ditions of land ownership and settlement seem now to be such
as necessitates an earnest effort to reclaim in one continuous
project and with the greatest possible expedition, all the lands

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

south and southeast of Lake Okeechobee between Miami Canal,
the proposed West Palm Beach Canal and the eastern boundary
of the Drainage District." It recommended construction of St.
Lucie Canal for controlling the lake, and arterial canals as the
primary drainage for the land.
A soil survey along North New River Canal was made in 1915
by the U. S. Department of Agriculture. The report (1): pointed
out problems likely to arise when organic soils are drained, stated
that control of water levels in the canals would be necessary
for agricultural use of the land, doubted the value of the soils
over much of the area, and questioned that the prevailing high
prices for the land were justified by its productivity. Locally,
the report was exceedingly unpopular. A decade later discovery
was made that application of very small quantities of certain
metallic elements, in addition to the usually indicated fertilizers
and to water control, would make the peat soils productive of
commercially valuable crops.
Dissatisfaction with progress in reclamation and development
led to the appointment in 1927 of an Engineering Board of Re-
view (Anson Marston, chairman) to re-examine the plans of
the District. This Board recommended progressive drainage of
the area, conforming as closely as possible to the progress of
development and use of the land. It planned additional lake-
control and drainage works, including levees along the drainage
canals to keep them from being overtaxed by surface flow from
undeveloped land. It recognized the effects of soil subsidence
upon the design and operation of drainage works. The recom-
mendations, however, have not been put into effect.
The 18-year period 1913 to 1931 saw excavation of 440 miles
of canals, construction of 47 miles of levees, and building of 16
locks and dams, at a total cost of approximately 18 million dol-
lars. Funds for this work were provided by the sale of bonds,
direct application of taxes, and advances from the Trustees of
the Internal Improvement Fund. The Trustees' policy of pur-
chasing all tax certificates sold for non-payment of taxes by
private owners assured collection of the taxes levied and did
much to stabilize the financial condition of the District.
Collapse of the extremely speculative land boom of 1925, the
disastrous hurricanes of 1926 and 1928, the general national
economic condition of the late 'twenties, and the depletion of

Italic figures in parentheses refer to Bibliography in the back of this

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades 13

Trustee funds derived from land sales led to a default on January
1, 1931, in the payments scheduled against the outstanding
bonded indebtedness. All construction work by the District
ceased and almost all maintenance work was deferred. By 1940
owners of District bonds were suing to force payment of those
obligations. They had obtained a tax levy of 15 million dollars
on the 1940 roll, but most land-owners refused to pay. Taxes
were delinquent to the extent of nearly 25 million dollars and
practically every landholder's title had been forfeited by reason
of non-payment.
The Drainage District, in debt for nearly 20 million dollars,
made several unsuccessful attempts to refinance its indebtedness.
However, in 1941 the legislature authorized the District to issue
refinancing bonds, which the Reconstruction Finance Corpora-
tion agreed to buy. The same legislative act permitted land-
owners to regain current status of their taxes by payment of
1 or 2 years' installments of the delinquency. Further, the re-
funding bonds were to be supported by a revised tax structure
which decreased the annual burden of acreage taxes from
$2,000,000 to $600,000. By the latter part of 1943 the total
indebtedness of Everglades Drainage District had been reduced
to approximately $5,300,000 and most of the owners had regained
title to their lands by payment of the 1941 compromise of taxes.
The Okeechobee Flood-control District was created by the
Legislature in 1929 and charged with responsibility for providing
or obtaining works and improvements necessary for flood control
and navigation in the Caloosahatchee, Lake Okeechobee, and
Everglades areas. It includes all of Everglades Drainage Dis-
trict and all of Martin, Okeechobee, Glades, Lee, Hendry, Collier,
and Monroe counties except the Florida Keys. Under Con-
gressional authorization of 1930, the Corps of Engineers, United
States Army, constructed levees along the shores of Lake Okee-
chobee and improved Caloosahatchee River and St. Lucie Canal,
to control floods in Lake Okeechobee and to provide a navigable
channel from Stuart to Fort Myers. The work was practically
completed in 1936. Maintenance of the works and control of
Lake levels are under the control of the Corps of Engineers.
Because frequent fires were destroying considerable acreages
of soil and vegetation, especially in the drained peat along the
drainage canals, the legislature in 1939 created the Everglades
Fire Control District. This agency was made co-extensive with

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

LAKE \o-s\


Y 4 la 4 -s
'4b IQ [4a




ru y l-42-S

,-4T -5


NT T-54-S
40DDE T-47-S

tIUT T-------48 ...;'__-S

2 T 59S-5


Fig. 2.-Physiographic divisions of the Everglades Region. la, saw-
grass plains; lb, custard-apple; Ic, willow-and-elder; ld, hammock-saw-
grass; 2, ridge-and-slough; 3, hammock-and-glades; 4a, coastal ridge and
sand prairies; 4b, sandy lands, hammock-and-slough; 5, Miami rock rim;
6, coastal marsh.
6, coastal marsh.

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades

the Drainage District and was provided with $75,000 per year
for control and suppression of fires within its boundaries.
The dry period of 1938-39 made generally apparent, both to
agricultural interests in the Everglades Drainage District and
to municipalities of the southern East Coast, that conservation
and control of water in the area is highly important for preser-
vation of the organic soils, for irrigation of farm crops, and for
replenishment of subsurface storage from which municipal sup-
plies are pumped. In compliance with requests from these and
other interests, in 1939 the U. S. Geological Survey began in-
tensive investigation of the water resources of southeastern
Florida (see pages 21-42), and the Soil Conservation Service
undertook surveys for determining land-use capabilities in the
Everglades Drainage District and the water-control measures
necessary for developing those capabilities. Both agencies are
continuing their investigations as this report is written (1947).

Area Surveyed
The area covered by surveys of the Soil Conservation Service
consists of the Everglades Drainage District and the lands be-
tween that District and the coast in Dade and Broward counties
and in Palm Beach County south of West Palm Beach Canal.
Figure 2 is a sketch map of the area showing its principal physio-
graphic divisions.
The region commonly known as the Everglades is a nearly
flat, shallow, more or less oblong basin which extends from Lake
Okeechobee to the southern tip of the State. This basin is bor-
dered by the slightly higher sandy coastal ridge on the east, the
Miami rock rim on the southeast, sand prairies on the north and
northwest, and Big Cypress Swamp on the west. The flat sandy
prairie extends a few miles south of the northeastern corner of
Collier County. The main part of the Everglades slopes 2 or 3
inches to the mile toward the south or southeast, but south of
Tamiami Trail the slope is to the southwest. (See accompany-
ing map of water-control measures recommended.)
The main part of the Everglades is made up of the sawgrass
plains and the ridge-and-slough country, areas 1 and 2 in Figure
2. (The sawgrass plains include the custard-apple, willow-and-
elder, and hammock-sawgrass sub-areas.) West of the southern
portion of the Everglades is the hammock-and-glades section,
area 3, consisting mostly of Big Cypress Swamp in Collier and
Monroe counties. The sandy lands of the east, north, and west

16 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station






Fig 3.-Drainage area of Lake Okeechobee.

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades 17

portions of the District (area 4) have a hammock-and-slough
phase in the northwestern and northeastern corners. The Miami
rock rim, area 5, is a low ridge from 5 to 15 miles wide which ex-
tends about 60 miles southwest from Miami. Southeast and
south of it is the coastal marsh, area 6.
Lake Okeechobee receives the runoff from Kissimmee River
and several smaller streams (see Fig. 3) which have a combined
drainage area of about 5,000 square miles. The area of the lake
itself is 725 square miles at elevation 15.5 feet above mean sea
level.4 Before reclamation of any of the Everglades or nearby
swamp lands, the surface of Lake Okeechobee stood in ordinary
years between 18 and 20 feet above the sea. It did not have
any well-defined outlet, but at high water overflowed much of
the southern rim. The water then flowed slowly through the
Everglades, and what was not evaporated or used by plants
passed into the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean. This
natural drainage was changed greatly by the canals, the first of
which was completed early in 1883 to connect the lake with the
Caloosahatchee River. The shores of the lake are now diked
for flood control as well as for regulation of the water level, and
the water is maintained as nearly as possible between elevations
12.6 and 15.6 m.s.l. (feet above mean sea level) by the Corps of
Engineers, U. S. Army. The main outlets through which water
is discharged are St. Lucie Canal and Caloosahatchee River.
Canals are shown in Figure 2 and on the larger maps. Most
of the canals are primarily for drainage, as described in the sec-
tions on water conditions and water control. The cross-state
waterway from Fort Myers to Stuart, which is part of the flood-
control project, connects Lake Okeechobee with the Gulf by way
of Caloosahatchee River and with the Atlantic Ocean by way of
St. Lucie Canal. The lower ends of the drainage canals are
used by pleasure and small commercial craft.
The highest portion of Everglades Drainage District is north
of Lake Okeechobee. South of the Lake, the highest ground is
a sandy ridge in Hendry County which reaches elevation 30
m.s.l. (mean sea level) at one point on the west boundary of the
District. The greatest elevations found in the northern 'Glades
were 18 to 19 feet near the boundaries between the peat and the
sandy lands north of West Palm Beach Canal and in Hendry
County. In undeveloped peat some 6 to 10 miles south of the

U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey datum. See page 50.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

lake, elevations of 15 to 16 feet were separated by subsisdence
valleys along the drainage canals. Along Tamiami Canal the
ground elevations were 6 to 7 feet in the 'Glades, and slightly
higher at the west line of Dade County. The rock rim across
the south end of the District is 5 to 15 feet and more above sea
The largest cities in or near the Dainage District are Miami,
with a population in 1940 of 172,172; West Palm Beach, 33,693;
Miami Beach, 28,012; and Fort Lauderdale, 17,996. Smaller
cities along the coast are Lake Worth, Hollywood, Pompano,
Delray Beach, and Dania. In the vicinity of Lake Okeechobee,
Pahokee has a population of 4,766, Belle Glade 3,806, Canal Point
3,131 (in the entire precinct), Okeechobee 1,658, Clewiston
1,338, and Moore Haven 831, according to the 1940 Census. The
population of Homestead in the same year was 3,154.
Good paved highways connect all the cities and towns. United
States Highway 1 extends through the coastal cities to Home-
stead and the key islands. Tamiami Trail (U. S. Highway 94)
extends west from Miami across the Everglades and the Big
Cypress and north to Fort Myers and Tampa. Highways con-
nect the towns around the Lake with West Palm Beach, Fort
Myers, and points to the north. A new highway along the North
New River Canal, completed in 1941, makes this part of the
Everglades easily accessible and, with connecting roads, affords
direct transportation from the Lake region to Fort Lauderdale
and Miami.
The Florida East Coast, Atlantic Coast Line, and Seaboard
railways furnish rapid passenger and freight service to Northern
cities. Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach are ship-
ping and receiving ports for water-borne freight. Miami is an
important terminal for domestic and overseas airlines.

The growing of truck crops on a commercial scale was begun
in the coastal section about the time the Florida East Coast Rail-
way built its line from West Palm Beach to Miami in 1896.
Numerous settlers came between 1910 and 1915, and again be-
tween 1920 and 1926. Although the main canals were con-
structed prior to 1915, most of the cultivated land in the vicinity
of Lake Okeechobee was developed after 1920. Development
was rapid about this time. In 1944 the value of all crops har-

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades 19

vested in the 9- counties that lie partly or wholly within the
Everglades region amounted to $41,805,438. Cropland harvested
in these same counties was 195,711 acres, and within the pre-
cincts that lie almost wholly within the District amounted to
152,975 acres. These figures and others from the Census re-


County* and
Precincts Farms


Broward .............. 1,104

Dade ................... 1,159

Glades .................. 127
Prec. 1, 3, 4, 6,
7, 8, 9, 10 & 13 95

Hendry ................ 117
Prec. 1 and 2.. 21

Highlands .......... 609
Prec. 8 ............. 7

M artin ................ 263
Prec. 7 and 8.. 59

Okeechobee ........ 210
Prec. 4, 6,
and 7 ................ 87

Palm Beach ........ 1,139

St. Lucie .............. 549
Prec. 3 ............ 13

Total, 9 complete
counties ............

Total of counties
or precints in
Region ............



Land in






































Value of
All Crops








29,715 38,880

16,143 18,000

17,400 13,883,650

14,063 4,822,489
2,000 49,100

218,462 41,805,438

143,864 31,229,315

There is practically no agriculture in the portions of Collier and Monroe counties
within the Everglades Region.
** County figures are from the Bureau of the Census; values for precincts have been
computed therefrom as proportional to acreage of cropland harvested.

SCollier and Monroe counties not included because there is practically
no agriculture in the portions in the Everglades Region.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

ports are given in Table 1. For the counties that lie partly
within the region, figures are given for the entire county and
also for the part.
The most intensively cultivated area is that bordering the lake
from Moore Haven at Caloosahatchee River through Clewiston
and Belle Glade to Port Mayaca at St. Lucie Canal, with ex-
tensions down North New River, Hillsboro, and West Palm Beach
Canals. Truck crops grown on the peat and muck in the vicinity
of the lake are chiefly snap beans and celery, although cabbage,
tomatoes, peppers, and many other crops are grown. Sugarcane
occupies a large acreage east and west of Clewiston and near
Pahokee. Several fields of lemon grass are grown near Clewis-
ton. Formerly a great deal of sugarcane was grown on the sandy
soils, but at present it is grown chiefly on the peat. Because
of the expensive installations needed for control of the water,
and the suitability of the land for use of tillage machinery, the
tendency is for development of large farms that comprise from
160 to several thousand acres.
Along the eastern boundary of the District, from West Palm
Beach to North New River Canal, is a cultivated band of vary-
ing width, practically continuous except between Hillsboro and
Cypress Creek Canals. The portion north of Hillsboro Canal is
also in Lake Worth Drainage District. Citrus groves are located
chiefly on the mucky sands in the vicinity of Davie and on the
Miami rock rim. The marl lands east of the coastal ridge at
Dania are used intensively for growing tomatoes, and those south-
east of the rock rim for tomatoes, potatoes, and other truck.
These crops are planted in the fall and harvested for market in
winter. The rockland southwest of Miami is used to some extent
for avocados, limes, oranges, grapefruit, mangos, and a wide
variety of sub-tropical fruits of less importance.
Some lands have been improved for pasture, or are being used
for pasture after improvement for more intensive use, along
Caloosahatchee River, around the head of Indian Prairie Canal,
on the mid-section of West Palm Beach Canal, and west of the
coastal ridge between North New River and Snake Creek Canals.
Much of the sandy pine and palmetto land and also a great deal
of the wet peat land is used for seasonal grazing. There are
some dairy farms, but beef cattle are grown for the most part.
The principal grazing areas within the drainage district are in
Hendry, Glades, Highlands, Okeechobee, Martin, St. Lucie, and
northern Palm Beach counties.

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades 21

Geology and Ground Water of the Everglades Region'
As a result of salt-water contamination of the Miami municipal
well field in 1939, the U. S. Geological Survey began an intensive
investigation of water resources of southeastern Florida in the
fall of that year. Half the cost of this investigation was borne
by the U. S. Geological Survey and half by Dade County and the
cities of Miami, Miami Beach, and Coral Gables. Most of the
work has centered in eastern Dade County but geologic and
hydrologic studies led to remote parts of the hinterland, includ-
ing the Everglades and parts of the Big Cypress Swamp. In
carrying out this research, 89 exploratory test wells were drilled
in southeastern Florida (see Fig. 14). Of these, 30 were in-
stalled jointly by the U. S. Geological Survey and the Soil Con-
servation Service. Most of the rest were either put down by
the U. S. Geological Survey or under its direct supervision by
the Army, Navy, Farm Security Administration, or Defense
Plants Corporation. The wells ranged in depth from 50 feet to
812 feet.
Largely from studies of the samples of rock, water, fossils,
and related data gathered during the exploratory test-well drill-
ing and pumping, and from geologic field studies carried out
over a period of more than 4 years, supplementing the investi-
gations of earlier workers in the geology of southern Florida
(29, pp. 113-115), the following geologic and groundwater rela-
tionships have been worked out.

The Floridian Plateau
Florida is the sub-aerial portion of a vast table-land bounded
by steeply pitching sides on the east, south, and west, and
largely covered by marine waters. Vaughan (40) named it the
Floridian Plateau.

Structure, Stratigraphy, and Ground Water
A recently drilled deep exploratory test well in the Big Cypress
area near Sunniland, Florida, penetrated 13,493 (4) feet below

Of many persons who have contributed to the investigations reported
in this section, special acknowledgment is made to the following: O. E.
Meinzer, V. T. Stringfield, C. Wythe Cook, W. P. Cross, S. K. Love, and
N. D. Hoy, of U. S. Geological Survey; Alexander Orr, Jr., former Mayor
of Miami; W. A. Glass, Director, Miami Board of Water and Sewers;
Herman Gunter, Director, Florida Geological Survey; A. P. Black, Con-
sulting Engineer, Gainesville; Malcolm Pirnie, Consulting Engineer, New
York; and City Managers A. B. Curry of Miami, Claude A. Renshaw of
Miami Beach, and George N. Shaw of Coral Gables.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

the surface without reaching the basement complex of meta-
morphic and igneous rocks which is believed to underlie this
part of the State as it does the northern portion (5). From top
to bottom the rocks penetrated are of marine origin (6) and
except for the thin Fort Thompson formation of the Everglades
area (29, pp. 72-74), all Florida's building has been accomplished
under the influence of a marine environment (see Fig. 4, chart of
geologic formations on page 23, and Bibliography.)


/r11 -i60


-- ~300 MILES

Fig. 4.-Generalized geologic cross-section, Ocala to Florida City.

The structure and stratigraphy of Florida are such that the
formations at or near the surface in the northern part of the
State are deeply buried under the Everglades Drainage District,
and whereas in the areas of their outcrop these formations
usually carry potable ground water, their ground water here
is saline, sulfurous, corrosive, and unfit for human use. In the
southern part of the State, except on the Florida keys, these
formations carry ground water under artesian pressure sufficient
to cause the water to flow wherever the land surface is less than
40 feet above mean sea level.
Overlying the artesian water-bearing formations is the Haw-
thorn formation of Miocene age that acts as an aquiclude (38) ;
for although it carries water in limited quantities in parts of the
formation that are more permeable than others, its chief im-

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades 23


Age Formation Character Thickness
in Feet
Everglades Fresh water peats and mucks rang- 0-8
Recent and organic soils ing in color from black to brown,
latest and in texture from fibrous to plas-
Pleistocene tic. Permeability generally low.
Lake Flirt Fresh-water grayish-white cal- 0-6
marl careous mud locally consolidated
to hard limestone. Relatively



Alternate beds of marine, brack-
ish, and fresh-water limestone,
marl, and shells. Permeability
usually very low.
Light-colored marine limestone,
calcareous sandstone, sand, and
coquina. Permeability ranges
from low to high.

Miami oolite Creamy-white oolitic limestone, 0-40
cross-bedded to massive and/or
stratified. Perforated with
numerous vertical solution holes.
Yields water to shallow wells.
Key Largo Light-colored coral reef rock, very 0-60
limestone open and permeable. Does not oc-
cur at surface on Florida main-
Pamlico Marine terrace quartz sand with 0-50
minor amount of shells and shell
fragments. Light-colored except
where stained by organic coating
on sand grains or where cemented
by iron oxide. Permeability
ranges from low to high, depend-
ing on mechanical composition.
Generally occurs up to 25 feet
above sea level.
Talbot Marine terrace sand usually com- 0-40
formation posed of quartz grains ranging in
color from light to dark, depend-
ing on impurities. Permeability
ranges from low to medium. Gen-
erally outcrops between 25 and 42
feet above mean sea level.
Penholoway Marine terrace sand usually com- 0-40
formation posed of quartz grains ranging in
color from light to dark, depend-
ing on impurities, Permeability
ranges from low to medium. Gen-
erally outcrops between 42 and 70
feet above mean sea level.

Light-colored marine sandy lime- |
stone, calcareous sandstone, and
beds and pockets of quartz sand.
Formation is perforated with a
maze of solution holes and caverns


Pliocene formation


Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

Age Formation Character Thickness
in Feet
commonly filled with white quartz
sand. One of most highly per-
meable formations ever investi-
gated by the U. S. Geological
Pliocene Survey.
Caloosa- Light to dark colored sand, silty, 30-50
hatchee and clayey marine shell marl with
marl beds of shell, sand, or clay occur-
ring locally. Permeability gener-
ally very low.
Hawthorn Green sand, sandy marl, silt marl, 400-500
formation clay marl, shell marl, and lime-
stone. Green coloring character-
izes these marine sediments.
Permeability generally very low.
Miocene Carries limited amounts of poor
quality artesian water under low
pressure head.
Tampa White to gray marine limestone, 250-350
limestone calcareous marl, and thin beds of
sand and shell. Water is carried
in the limestone and shell beds but
not in the marl. Yields highly
mineralized artesian water.
Suwannee White marine limestone and minor 200-300
Oligocene quantities of reported "green
shale." Yields highly mineralized
artesian water.
Ocala White to tan marine limestone, 200-300
Eocene limestone highly foraminiferal. Cherty in
(Jackson upper portion. Very highly per-
group) meable but water is highly min-
Eocene and Undifferentiated calcareous, gypsi- I 12,000
Cretaceous ferous, anhydritic and halitic

portance lies in the fact that it acts as a seal to the artesian
aquifers below, and prevents water of the overlying formations
from penetrating through to the artesian formations.
Overlying the Hawthorn are younger formations ranging in
age from Pliocene through Recent. These younger formations
generally carry water under unconfined conditiois-that is, with
a free upper surface, the water table-and are usually recharged
locally in contra-distinction to the artesian aquifers which are
generally recharged in their outcrop area far removed from the
In this report the main concern is with those geologic forma-
tions mappablee rock units) that lie at or near the surface of

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades

31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41


__ M OlflE
]- ] m* ,l OOLITC
Ma sA sA3T3i r OmTO

P C4LOS y rORuAtr

c--.--E WAP,

0 6 2 's 24 o

Fig. 5.-Geologic map of the Everglades Region.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

the land. These include: the Caloosahatchee marl and Tamiami
formation of Pliocene age; the Anastasia formation, Miami oolite,
Fort Thompson formation, and Pamlico formation of Pleistocene
age; and the Lake Flirt marl and the organic soils of the Ever-
glades of latest Pleistocene and Recent ages. (See Figure 5.)

Pliocene Rocks

Caloosahatchee Marl.-The Caloosahatchee marl consists es-
sentially of sandy, silty, or clayey shell marl, clay marl, clay,
and beds of sand. (See Figure 6.) It is a littoral and neritic
deposit that ranges in thickness from 30 to 50 feet over the
greater part of its distribution. On the western side of Florida
the Caloosahatchee marl grades into or interfingers with the
Buckingham marl, and to the south, in the latitude of Fort
Lauderdale, the Caloosahatchee marl grades into and interfingers
with the Tamiami formation (29, p. 2). On the eastern side of
Florida the Caloosahatchee marl grades into the Tamiami for-

Fig. 6.-Details in the Caloosahatchee marl. Site is right bank of
Caloosahatchee River about 350 yards east of bridge at LaBelle, Florida.
A bed of greenish marly clay is here overlain by sandy shell marl. When
dry, the clay checks as seen here. It is practically impermeable. (Photo
by Garald G. Parker, U.S.G.S.)

.4- -;


Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades


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Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

nation under the Atlantic Coastal Ridge between Delray Beach
and West Palm Beach.
The permeability varies with the lithologic composition, but
as a whole the coefficient of permeability is relatively low; in-
deed, some wells ending in the Caloosahatchee yield no water.
Where the formation is more permeable, and near the coast, the
water is apt to be potable but hard. Inland, around Lake Okee-
chobee and the upper part of the Everglades, the water is hard
and in some places so highly mineralized as to be unfit for human
consumption. These variously mineralized bodies of water near
the lake are probably the result of Pleistocene invasions by the
sea during the interglacial stages and of subsequent partial
flushings or dilutions by fresh percolating ground water during
glacial stages, and of the various chemical reactions, mainly of
the base-exchange variety, that have taken place and may b.
still going on.
Tamiami Formation.-The Tamiami formation interfingers
with the Caloosahatchee marl, so might be considered a facies of
the Caloosahatchee. (See Figure 7.) The Tamiami is wedge-
shaped in cross-section, thin toward the interior and thick to-
ward the coast, ranging from about 10 to over 200 feet in thick-
ness. It is composed principally of light-colored sandy limestone,

Fig. 8.-Typical view of the Tamiami formation as exposed along
Tamiami Canal in Big Cypress Swamp about 55 miles west of Miami.
Note the solution holes. This formation is among the most highly per-
meable ever investigated by the U. S. Geological Survey. (Photo by Garald
G. Parker, U.S.G.S.)

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades 29


/ /
S / a / p

101-D 1

I/ I /

/ /

i /

I 92
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I 0

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r *I f i i <

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1 S IN 01 93BB3i3U 1331 NI 91d30

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

calcareous sandstone, and beds and pockets of quartz sand. (See
Figure 8.) The permeability is exceedingly high, in places rank-
ing with clean, well-sorted gravel.
The Tamiami underlies the southern portion of the Everglades
from about the latitude of Fort Lauderdale. It underlies the
Atlantic Coastal Ridge at least as far north as Delray Beach, and
possibly almost to West Palm Beach, where it interfingers with
or grades into the Caloosahatchee marl. It lies at the surface
in the southern part of the Big Cypress, but is very thin there.
(See Figure 9.)
Pleistocene Rocks
The Pleistocene rocks consist of several formations which are
of especial interest because they compose so large a part of the
surface of southern Florida and because they record the in-
fluence of the glacial climate of Pleistocene times in the build-
ing of this area. These formations include the Anastasia for-
mation, Miami oolite, Fort Thompson formation, Pamlico forma-

Fig. 10.-Typical view of the Anastasia formation as exposed along
Fort Myers Beach road about 0.25 mile west of U. S. Highway 94 (Tamiami
Trail). The Anastasia here is a sandy, shelly limestone riddled with
solution holes largely filled by latest Pleistocene sand and marine shells.
(Photo by Garald G. Parker, U.S.G.S.)

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades 31

tion, and Talbot and Penholoway formations. The Key Largo
limestone, a dead coral reef, and the higher sandy terrace de-
posits are not discussed in this report because they are largely
outside the boundaries of the Everglades region.
Anastasia Formation.-The Anastasia formation is well de-
veloped along the east coast of Florida as far south as Boca
Raton, where it grades into the Miami oolite. On the west coast
of Florida (see Fig. 10) it is very thin and has only a limited
development. Between the coastal regions, in the Everglades,
it merges with the marine members of the Fort Thompson for-
The Anastasia formation is composed chiefly of sandy, shelly
limestone, coquina, shells, and sand with local carbonaceous silty
or clayey deposits that represent old salt marsh and mangrove
swamps. Its thickness ranges from a feather edge to about 60
Along the east coast of Florida, where the Anastasia is most
Fig. 11.-Typical exposure of the Miami oolite overlain by the Pamlico
formation. Site is a borrow pit on the west side of U. S. Highway No. 1
at the north side of Fort Lauderdale. Note the solution holes in the oolite
(the 6-year old boy gives scale). The sand of the Pamlico formation not
only mantles the oolite but usually fills the solution holes. (Photo by
Garald G. Parker U.S.G.S.)

~Zt~L ~f

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

prominently developed, it forms the backbone of the Atlantic
Coastal Ridge, and is a fair to excellent aquifer, depending upon
the lithologic composition.
Miami Oolite.-The Atlantic Coastal Ridge south of Boca
Raton is composed of Miami oolite to an average depth of about
20 feet. The oolite overlies the Tamiami formation; it under-
lies the Bay of Florida and forms the land surface in the lower
Florida Keys, Big Pine Key to and including Key West.
The formation is highly permeable in a vertical direction due
to the tremendous development of vertical solution holes, or
"chimneys" as locally they are often called. (See Figure 11.)
In a horizontal direction the permeability is greatly reduced, but
even so the formation transmits large quantities of water.
Fort Thompson Formation.-Occupying the Lake Okeechobee-
Everglades depression is the Fort Thompson formation, a series
of alternating beds of limestone, shells, sand, and marl of marine,
brackish, and fresh-water origin. (See Figure 12.) The marine
beds represent times when the area was flooded by the sea; the
Fig. 12.-Typical exposure of the Fort Thompson formation at the type
locality on Caloosahatchee River 1% miles east of LaBelle, Florida. The
hard, dense, fresh-water limestone layers stand out as ledges due to removal
by solution and erosion of the soft marl and shell beds between. (Photo by
Garald G. Parker, U.S.G.S.)

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades 33

fresh-water beds record times when sea-level was below the
present level and fresh-water lakes and marshes occupied the
area; and the brackish-water beds may represent either times
of rising or falling sea levels when the water in the area was
neither salt nor fresh but was a mixture of the two.
The Fort Thompson formation has been described and tenta-
tively correlated by Parker and Cooke (29, p. 40) with other
formations, and with the glacial and interglacial stages of the
The limestone beds of the Fort Thompson are usually extreme-
ly dense and hard with comparatively few solution holes pierc-
ing them. Intercalated gray calcareous mud or marl layers, in
addition to the dense hard limestone layers, help to make the
Fort Thompson formation generally relatively impermeable so
that water does not pass through it easily. Some portions of
the formation contain greater amounts of shell or coarser sand
than others, and where this occurs local zones of fair to even
high permeability occur.
Pamlico Formation.-The Pamlico formation (see Fig. 11) is
chiefly composed of gray-white to carbonaceous quartz sand
locally consolidated to sandstone. It mantles the underlying
rocks of southern Florida along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts
about to the latitude of Miami but does not generally extend far
out into the Lake Okeechobee-Everglades depression; inland it
extends up to about 25 feet above mean sea level, the altitude
of the Pamlico seashore. Locally the sand of the Pamlico forma-
tion is heaped up into beach ridges and dunes at altitudes higher
than 25 feet.
The Pamlico formation is usually of low to medium permeabil-
ity. Where clean and well sorted, the permeability is high, but
ordinarily the sorting is poor and the interstices between larger
sand grains are filled with smaller ones, or silt and/or organic
materials are intermixed with the sand in some places, so as to
reduce greatly the permeability.
Talbot and Penholoway Formations.-The Talbot and Penholo-
way formations are conformable marine terrace deposits whose
differentiation is based mainly on the location of their respective
shore lines, namely, 42 and 70 feet above present sea level. These
formations unconformably overlie the Caloosahatchee marl and
are likewise separated by a stratigraphic break from the Pam-
lico formation, which fringes around the Talbot.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

The surficial deposits consist of poorly sorted gray to white
quartz sand of various degrees of fineness and angularity. Below
the surface the sands are gray to orange, tan, and brown. In
some places the sands have been cemented to produce friable to
hard sandstones.
Old bars, inner lagoons, and beach ridges are still prominent
in many places on the surface of these formations. These in-
herited shore line features today exert primary control on sur-
face drainage, and are responsible for the existence of most of
the sloughs, swales, and "islands" of the Kissimmee River drain-
age basin and similar areas.
Not a great deal is known about the transmissibility of these
formations. They absorb rainfall readily and yield water to
many shallow small-diameter wells finished with sand-points.
The few exploratory test wells put down through these sands
indicate that the quantity of ground water moving through the
formations toward Lake Okeechobee is relatively small.

Latest Pleistocene and Recent Rocks
Lake Flirt Marl.-The Lake Flirt marl of late Wisconsin and
Recent age has its thickest and typical development in the basin

Fig. 13.-Typical view of the Lake Flirt marl at the type locality about
one-half mile east of the dismantled U.S.E.D. Lock No. 3 on Caloosahatchee
River. Note that carbonaceous sand and/or peat and muck layers are inter-
calated with the marl beds. Laterally marl may grade into muck, peat,
or carbonaceous sand, and vice versa. (Photo by Garald G. Parker, U.S.G.S.)

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades 35

of old Lake Flirt east of Fort Thompson on the Caloosahatchee
River. There the formation ranges in thickness up to 6 feet.
(See Figure 13.)
The Lake Flirt marl is widely distributed under the organic
soils of the Everglades, and in places is consolidated into a hard
limestone (as along Cross and Hillsboro Canals) just under the
muck. Usually, however, it is a soft, grayish-white calcareous
mud rich with leached shells of fresh-water gastropods, especial-
ly of the genera Helisoma and Ameria. The marl is not uniform-
ly distributed; it often pinches or lenses out into peat or muck.
Generally it is quite impermeable, acting as a seal that prevents
movement of water through it. Where present it is an important
aid in controlling water levels, especially above the highly per-
meable Miami oolite and the Tamiami formation.
Organic Soils.-The peats and mucks of the Everglades, formed
in Recent time, are treated fully elsewhere in this bulletin. (See
pp. 61 and 141.)

Topographic Development

The general aspect of southern Florida's topographic expres-
sion is one of extreme flatness, yet there is considerable diver-
sification. Along the Florida east coast the Atlantic Coastal
Ridge extends as a strip of higher land between the ocean and
the Lake Okeechobee-Everglades depression. North of this de-
pression, which is some 40 miles wide and 100 miles long, is a
series of higher land, Pleistocene marine terraces, scalloped by
streams such as Kissimmee River and Fisheating Creek. To the
west of the depression is the higher land of Big Cypress Swamp
and Devil's Garden. Along parts of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts
are quiescent dunes; in fact many of the Ten Thousand Islands
of the lower west coast are drowned sand dunes. And filling in
most of the Lake Okeechobee-Everglades depression to a monot-
onously flat level are the organic peat and muck soils that today
are undergoing an important change in topographic expression.
(See p. 79.)
Most of this topographic development was achieved during
the Pleistocene, or Great Ice Age, but some of the Pliocene rocks
still are exposed at the surface. The development of the rocks,
soils, and topographic expression may be traced from the
Pliocene epoch.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

Geologic History
Pliocene Epoch.-During much of Pliocene time southern
Florida was a sea bottom covered by warm, shallow water that
teemed with marine life. The shore line probably extended
southward through Lake County to Sebring, circled westward
through Arcadia and Sarasota, then northward across the Gulf
toward Tallahassee. On land and in deltas the Alachua forma-
tion and the Bone Valley gravel accumulated, while off shore in
the shallow waters the shell beds, calcareous sandstone and
sandy limestone, and calcareous clay of the Caloosahatchee marl,
Buckingham marl, and Tamiami formation were being deposited.
The accumulation of these materials left a moderately flat sur-
face in the central and upper Everglades area when the Pliocene
sea withdrew, a surface that generally sloped gently to the east
from the longitude of the Big Cypress-Devil's Garden area to
the Atlantic Coastal Ridge where the slope steepened toward the
east. (See Figure 14.)
Near the close of the Pliocene, due to uplift of the Floridian
Plateau, this old sea bottom became a land surface over which
strange animals roamed, a lush vegetation flourished, many lakes
existed, and rivers and minor streams wended their ways to the
sea. No deep gorges were carved in this surface, though it is
probable that the larger present-day streams originated during
this interval and began to cut their valleys across the now sub-
merged portion of the Floridian Plateau as far as the edge of the
continental shelf.
Pleistocene Epoch.-The Pleistocene epoch is sometimes known
as the Great Ice Age. It was during this time that thick con-
tinental glaciers occupied immense land areas in both northern
and southern hemispheres. The formation of these glaciers re-
quired huge quantities of water whose ultimate source was the
ocean. As a result of the formation of continental glaciers, the
ocean level fell. Between times of glaciation there were warm
intervals called inter-glacial stages, during which much of the
ice melted away and the water returned to ocean basins, refilling
them and causing the sea level to rise again.
There were 5 prolonged periods of low sea level, during each
of which the shore line lay offshore from its present location,
and sub-aerial erosion and subterranean solution became active.
Fresh-water lakes and marshes occupied the Lake Okeechobee-
Everglades depression. These times of low sea level appear to

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades 37

correspond to the Nebraskan, Kansan, and Illinoian glacial stages,
and two sub-stages of the Wisconsin distinguished as the Iowan
(early Wisconsin) and the post-Iowan (late Wisconsin) (8). In
glaciated regions they are represented by glacial drift, moraines,
and other ice-borne and water-borne debris. In Florida they are
indicated by erosion surfaces, solution holes, soil zones, and

I ,
3 33 34 35\ 36 37 3 39 40 41

HI G ,E 0 E.Ei s T.. *U G I N 57

xi' "


\S E., EI : 40

SPiocen Esu .

st s 44
a r ss s 45

a SI

I M .'N. S1




Fig. 14.-Map of Everglades Drainage District showing contours on
the Pliocene surface.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

fresh-water limestone and marl (26 and 31). In the following
passages the correlations made are tentative and to be regarded
as a basis for a working hypothesis.
Nebraskan Glacial Stage.-The effect of this time on the topog-
raphy of southern Florida was largely to continue ,the erosion
and solution effects started in the late Pliocene. The Floridian
Plateau may have been slightly tilted westward at the beginning
of this epoch, and major stream development probably was to-
ward the Gulf of Mexico. No recognizable terrestrial or marine
deposits are credited to Nebraskan time in southern Florida.
Aftonian Interglacial Stage.-During the Aftonian nearly all
of Florida was beneath the sea (9), and southern Florida was,
at the time the sea reached its highest level, covered by water
deeper than 250 feet. Nearest land was a group of small islands
in Polk County, which could not have yielded much sediment to
the ocean currents. The sea bottom, floored with Pliocene sedi-
ments, remained nearly bare. Local patches of marine shells at
the base of the Fort Thompson formation on the Caloosahatchee
River may be of Aftonian age.
Kansan Glacial Stage.-With the formation of glaciers during
Kansas time, sea level again dropped below its present level.
Again land conditions existed where previously there had been
a marine environment. Fresh water lakes and marshes developed
in southern Florida, and in these bodies of fresh water thin
sheets of marl and limestone containing the shells of fresh-water
mollusks were deposited. Much of these deposits were probably
removed in the succeeding interglacial stage.
Yarmouth Interglacial Stage.-With the melting of ice sheets
during the Yarmouth interglacial stage, the ocean level once
more rose and southern Florida was flooded by salt water. The
sea rose to 215 feet above present mean sea level, halted long
enough to produce a shore line at that level, then fell to 170
feet, where it remained to the close of this stage. Sources of
sediment were again remote, and in the Everglades only a thin
marine shell marl and calcareous sandstone of the Fort Thomp-
son formation are referred to Yarmouth time. If the deposit was
once thicker, erosion and solution removed much of it before the
succeeding deposit was laid down. Along the Atlantic coast it is
probable that the lower portions of the Anastasia formation
were being built up and the basal portions of the Key Largo
limestone were growing as a coral reef.

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades 39

Illinoian Glacial Stage.-As the climate cooled during the
Illinoian glacial stage and the vast ice sheets spread, sea level
again dropped below the present level. Once more fresh-water
lakes and marshes appeared on the broad flat top of the Floridian
Plateau, and streams began cutting across the newly-emerged sea
bottom to the edge of the continental shelf. The present Lake
Okeechobee-Everglades depression had not assumed its modern
shape, but the area had been low ever since the Pliocene sea
withdrew, and the accumulation of the basal Anastasia forma-
tion to the east tended to produce a basin; consequently, the
Everglades area became a vast marshy lowland with shallow
lakes scattered in its deeper portions. In these lower areas a
fresh-water marl and limestone, in places 4 feet thick, was de-
posited. Solution and erosion were active wherever moving water
could attack the rocks, especially on the higher land areas along
the Gulf and Atlantic coasts.
Sangamon Interglacial Stage.-Melting of the glaciers formed
during Illinoian time slowly restored sea level to 100 feet above
the present level, where it remained for some time before falling
to 70 feet, then to 42 feet. It probably was mainly during the
early and late parts of the Sangamon, when sea level ranged be-
tween -20 feet and +20 feet with reference to present sea level,
that much of southern Florida's present-day topography assumed
its major outlines. Along the Atlantic coast the Miami oolite and
Anastasia formations were laid down as part of a marine bar,
just about at the level of the sea during those times. In many
places wind-blown and wave-tossed sand or oolitic material was
heaped up above high tide level, while behind the bar, in the
broad expanse of the present-day Everglades-Lake Okeechobee
depression, a shoal existed in which oolite (Miami oolite) was
deposited to the south, and in the north mollusk shells were con-
centrated in a wide and comparatively thick layer that today
makes up the Coffee Mill Hammock marl member of the Fort
Thompson formation.
The growth of the bar built up by Anastasia and Miami de-
posits was concomitant with that of the upper part of the Key
Largo limestone coral reef, and together largely built up the
topographic basin which today encloses the Lake Okeechobee
Everglades depression. Tidal currents scoured in and out
through lower parts of the bar, even as they do between the
Florida Keys today, and left spillways that subsequently be-
came used by fresh-water drainage from the Everglades. These

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

old tidal runways are especially noticeable between Fort Lauder-
dale and Miami. Shallower tidal channels are found elsewhere
on the Atlantic Coastal Ridge. Of considerable present-day
economic value are those between South Miami and Homestead,
floored with gray marl soils (of Recent age), used principally for
winter truck farming.
Wisconsin Glacial Stage.-Wisconsin time may be sub-divided
into an early glacial sub-stage, the Iowan; a mid-Wisconsin in-
terglacial sub-stage; and a late Wisconsin unnamed glacial sub-
During the Iowan glacial sub-stage the sea fell below its pres-
ent level, and once again southern Florida became a land area.
The Lake Okeechobee-Everglades depression gradually became
an immense fresh-water marsh and lake area in which local sandy
carbonaceous deposits were laid down. Discharge from the Lake
Okeechobee-Everglades depression was mainly through the old
tidal channels between Fort Lauderdale and Miami, and in some
instances these channels were cut entirely through the oolite into
the underlying Tamiami formation. Conditions were favorable
for solvent activity in the limestone, and a network of solution
holes in the oolite began to develop. Further solution develop-
ment in the calcareous rocks of the Tamiami formation helped
make it more and more highly permeable as the horizontal pas-
sages to the lowered sea level became enlarged. Dune building
probably occurred along the Atlantic Coastal Ridge; also along
the southwest Gulf coast where the Ten Thousand Islands now
are found.
At the close of the Iowan, the sea level began to rise again
as the early Wisconsin glaciers melted back, and slowly rose to
25 feet above the present level. The principal topographic effects
of this change in sea level were the development of a marine ter-
race with its inner margin at the 25-foot shore-line, and the
mantling of the older rocks bordering the Everglades as far
south as the latitude of Coral Gables with quartz sand of the
Pamlico formation. The Devil's Garden and northern Big
Cypress Swamp area became sand-mantled at this time, and the
old tidal inlets through the Atlantic Coastal Ridge were choked
with sand; solution holes and caverns were sand-filled; a strip of
sand was built into a smooth floor between the deeper parts of
the Lake Okeechobee-Everglades depression and the Atlantic
Coastal Ridge; and above the shoreline, beach-ridges and dunes
were built in many places.

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades

This mid-Wisconsin invasion of southern Florida by the sea
saturated the underlying rocks with salt water, adding to that
which remained from previous inundations. Some of this salt
water still remains in rocks of the Fort Thompson and Caloosa-
hatchee formations in the Lake Okeechobee-Everglades depres-
sion, modified by dilution with fresh water and by chemical re-
actions, mainly of the base-exchange variety, with the enclosing
With the formation of the glacial sheets in late Wisconsin
time the ocean once more fell below present sea level, and as it
receded heaped up the sand of the Pamlico formation into a series
of beach ridges that are today especially noticeable in St. Lucie,
Martin, and Palm Beach counties. These beach ridges and in-
tervening lagoons today exert primary control on surficial drain-
age, and impose a trellis-like drainage pattern on the area af-
fected. As the sea fell it halted long enough at 5 feet above
present mean sea level to develop a notch at Miami in a low sea-
cliff called Silver Bluff. The Miami wave-cut bench formed by
this 5-foot stand of the sea is plainly traceable from Miami to
and beyond Fort Lauderdale. U. S. Highway No. 1 follows the
old shore line for many miles in Dade and Broward counties.
When the ocean had once more fallen below present sea level
the old tidal runways through the Atlantic Coastal Ridge to the
Lake Okeechobee-Everglades depression were again used by dis-
charging fresh water streams, which at least partially re-exca-
vated these sand-choked channels. Solution became active again,
and along the coast in many places dune building became very
prominent. In the marshes behind the coastal ridge the basal
portions of the Lake Flirt marl and of the peat and muck of the
Everglades were laid down.
Recent Epoch.-Pleistocene time came to a close as the late
Wisconsin glaciers melted back and the sea slowly rose to its
present level. The lower ends of such rivers as the Caloosahat-
chee, Miami, New, Hillsboro, Jupiter, St. Lucie, St. Johns, etc.,
became flooded and created the estuaries now used as harbors.
Lake Worth, Hobe Sound, Indian River, and all of the other salt-
water lagoons behind the present-day off-shore bar came into
being, and at the same time Florida Bay, Biscayne Bay, Barnes
Sound, Card Sound, etc., assumed their identity. The numerous
sand dunes that had been formed along the southwest Gulf coast
were wholly or partially inundated, thus giving origin to the

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

Ten Thousand Islands. In this manner Florida's shores finally
assumed their modern outlines.



The climate of southern Florida generally is described as sub-
tropical. Temperatures are neither extremely hot in summer
nor cold in winter, owing to the influence of the ocean and the
Gulf. The highest temperature ever recorded by the Weather
Bureau at Miami is 9G F; the lowest is 27". The mean annual
temperature at Miami is 75, and the monthly average tempera-
tures range from 63' in January and February to 82" in July and
August. At Everglades Experiment Station at Belle Glade, about
4 miles cast of the southern tip of Lake Okeechobee, the mean
annual temperature from 1924 to 1946 was 72" F. July and
August are the warmest months, each with an average of 80' for
the 22-year period; January and February are the coldest, each
with an average of 64". The highest and the lowest temperatures
ever recorded at the Experiment Station are 100" and 24. The
average and extreme temperatures for these stations are shown
by months in Table 2.

(Compiled from U. S. Weather Bureau data.)

Becle G:ade I
(July 1924 to June 1943)1
Maxi- I M:ni-
Mean mum mum
Reached| Reached







June Oct.

(Jan. 1896 to Dec. 1946)
Maxi- Mini-
Mean mum mum
Reached Reached

68 85 29
68 88 27
70 92 34
74 93 45
77 94 50
80 94 61
82 96 66
82 96 60
81 95 62
78 93 52
73 88 36
69 91 L'




June Oct.

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades 43

No part of the mainland of Florida is free from frosts, al-
though several frost-free years may occur in succession. Be-
cause truck crops are grown almost entirely during the winter
for shipment to Northern markets, the frosts that occur may
cause severe and costly damage. The frost hazard is somewhat
greater on the peat soils than on the sandy soils. Tempera-
tures of 32 F. or less were recorded at Belle Glade in 13 of the
22 years from July 1924 to June 1946, and at Miami in 8 of the
50 years through 1945. Killing frosts, however, occurred during
the fall months in 11 of the 22 years at Belle Glade and 4 of the
48 years at Miami, and in the early months of 14 years at Belle
Glade and 13 years at Miami. The earliest frosts recorded in
the fall were on November 16, 1940, at Belle Glade, and on Nov-
ember 21, 1914, at Miami; the latest in the spring were on April
29, 1928, at Belle Glade and on March 18, 1915, at Miami. The
coldest temperatures recorded on virgin sawgrass peat land were
9 F. on March 14, 1932, at Shawano, about 14 miles southeast of
Belle Glade, and 13 in December 1934 near Twenty-Mile Bend in
West Palm Beach Canal. Recorded observations indicate that
minimum temperatures are about 5' higher on cultivated peat
soils than on virgin peat.

Sunshine, Wind, and Humidity
The sunshine at Miami is 67 percent of the possible on an
annual basis, ranging from 62 percent in June to 74 percent in
March and April. The frequent showers during the rainy season
ordinarily obscure the sun for only short periods of time.
Relative humidity in the peat areas is very high; records at
Belle Glade show it usually to be nearly 100 percent from sunset
to about 9 a. m. Winds are generally from the east. Their
movement is greatest during the winter and spring, and at Belle
Glade has averaged about 4,700 miles per year.

Rainfall in the Everglades region is extremely variable from
year to year, and from place to place in any year. On the aver-
age, the rainfall on the coast is several inches'more than around
Lake Okeechobee. The figures for Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and
Hypoluxo in Table 3 average 58.10 inches per year, whereas those
for Canal Point, Okeechobee, and Moore Haven average 50.47
inches. Southeast of the lake, as represented by Belle Glade and

(Compiled from U. S. Weather Bureau Data, Except for Canal Point and Shawano.)

January .-......
February .......
March ............
A pril ..............
May .............
June ................
July .............
August ..........
September ....
October ..........
November ......
December .....
A annual ............
June Oct. ......

January ..........
February ........
M arch ............
A pril ..............
May .............
June ................
July ...............
August ..........
September ......
October .... ....
November ......
December ......
Annual ..........
June Oct. ......

*For Belle Glade,




:e on
S Inches
Shawano (1926-1i


Glade (1924-1946)*
Least Rai
on I
Record or



n 0.01





Lauderdale (1918

t Least


22 years, July to June; for all other stations, calen ar years, inclusive.

** Records made at Davie prior to 1924.

Rain 0.01
or More

LL'T9 OS'88
8f'8L 90'6'

00'0 691' 69'1 LO'O T6"' 06'0
00'0 LZ'8 ZL'I LO'O LVT9 89'1
0O'0 09'91 691'' 0"0 68'91 9L'8
80'0 98'91 98'9 80'1 86''T LT'L
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Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

Shawano, the average has been 55.58 inches. Measurements in
the interior of the Glades are not available.
The heaviest rainfall within 24 hours in the Everglades region
probably was 21.92 inches occurring at the United States Cane
Breeding Station at Canal Point on November 6 and 7, 1932.
Nearly all of this fell in 8 hours, between 11 p. m. and 7 a. m.
The rainfall at Belle Glade in this storm was 10.90 inches. Un-
usual rains at Miami include 6.10 inches in 175 minutes in 1909
and 7.48 inches in 155 minutes in 1926.
The five months of June to October ordinarily make up the
rainy season, and furnish two-thirds of the yearly rainfall. (See
Table 3.) The months of heaviest precipitation are June and
September at most of the inland stations, and October on the
East Coast. Damaging floods may occur during wet periods
when crops are in the ground, because it is not economical to
provide ditches and canals large enough to handle the extreme
run-off from the occasional heavy rains. The relatively dry
months of November to May include most of the season in which
truck crops are produced. During the winter and spring, periods
of drought lasting 2 or 3 months are not uncommon; at Belle
Glade only 1 inch of rain fell in the 4 months of December 1938
to March 1939, inclusive. Consequently, irrigation is necessary
for growing most crops.

Each of the 6 natural subdivisions shown in Figure 2 has a
distinctive native vegetation.
The sawgrass plains include all the territory bounded by the
Miami Canal, West Palm Beach Canal, and the coastal ridge ex-
cept the Hillsboro Marsh section of ridge-and-slough land. The
dominant native vegetation is sawgrass, a sedge which attains

The scientific names of most of the plants mentioned in this chapter
are listed herewith. They are not intended to be a complete catalog of the
vegetation. For a thorough discussion of vegetation in southern Florida,
including the Everglades, see: Davis, John H., The Natural Features of
Southern Florida. Fla. Geol. Surv., Geol. Bul. 25. 1943.
Trees and Shrubs.-Red bay, Persea borbonia (L.) Pax.; sweet bay,
Magnolia virginiana (L.); custard apple, Annona glabra (L.); cypress,
Taxodium distichum (L.) L. C. Rich; southern elderberry, Sambucus simp-
sonii Rehder; strangler fig, Ficus aurea (Nutt.); gallberry, Ilex glabra
(L.) A. Gray; gumbo limbo, Bursera simaruba (L.) Sarg.; dahoon holly,
Ilex cassine (L.); black mangrove, Avicennia nitida (Jacq.); red mangrove,
Rhizophora mangle (L.); white mangrove (buttonwood), Laguncularia
racemosa Gaertn f.; wax myrtle, Myrica cerifera (L.); live oak, Quercus
virginiana (Mill.); scrub oak, several Quercus spp.; cabbage palm, Sabal

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades

a height of 8 feet or more on the deep peat. In the southern
part of this area, however, it may be less than 3 feet high on the
very shallow peat or porous limestone. Since the land has been
Strained or burned over many plants have come in, such as marsh
ferns, royal fern, smartweed, pigweed, goldenrod, and castor
Bordering the lake on the southeast, and extending back in
a strip from 1 to 4 miles wide, were the original forests of cus-
tard apple and associated plants. Virtually all of these forests
have been cleared, because the Okeechobee muck on which they
grew is excellent land. Farther back, south of the custard-apple
land, was the zone of willow-and-elder land which had somewhat
the same range in width. This is also good farm land and most
of it has been cleared.
Usually between the sawgrass plains and the ridge-and-slough
areas there is a transitional zone in which there is a great variety
of shrubs, mostly dominated by wax-myrtle, and many marsh
herbs intermixed with sawgrass, arrowhead, and cattails in the
wettest areas. Occasionally dotting the landscape of the saw-
grass plains are the old "'gator holes" which have willows grow-
ing around the edges, and arrowhead and cattails in the middle
around the water hole. Many clumps of wax myrtle have come
in on the undeveloped sawgrass land since the canals were dug.
Sawgrass was the principal native vegetation in the Istokpoga
area in the northwestern part of the Everglades Region, and in
the Allapattah Flats in the northern and northeastern parts, as
well as on the main sawgrass plains of the Everglades.
The ridge-and-slough area occurs in 2 sections-the Hillsboro
Marsh section, mostly north of Hillsboro Canal and immediately
west of the coastal ridge, and a larger section west of Miami
Canal and the rock rim in a body more than 100 miles long and

r.almetto (Walt.) Todd; saw palmetto, Serenoa repens (Bartr.) Small;
soamp pine, Pinn.l elliotti Engelm.; slash pine, Pinus caribaea Morelet;
long-leaf pine, Pinus pialustris Morelet; rosemary, Ceratiola ericoides
Michx.; tamarind, Lysilomu; willow, Salix spp., especially Salix amphiba
Grasses, Ferns, Herbs, and Water Pl.nts.-Arrowhcad, Sagittaria lanci-
f['lia (L.) ; b:adderworts, Urtricular.a; bonnets, Nuphar; cattail, Typha
latifolia (L.); cinnamon fern, Osmundla cinnamcmea (L.); swamp kern,
Blechnum serrulatu L. C. Rich; beard grass, Andropogon hirtiflorus
(Noes) Kunth; broom grass, Andropogon virginicus (L.); needle grass,
Eleocharis cellulosa Torr.; poverty grass, Aristida afinis (Schult.) Kunth;
sawgrass, Mariscus jamaicensis (Crantz) Britton; switch grass, Aristida
patula Chapm. and A. virgata Trin.; wiregrass, Aristida strict Michx.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

from 5 to 20 miles wide, shaped somewhat like a flattened "V"
pointing eastward toward Miami.
Each of these sections contains thousands of small oval islands
interspersed with sloughs and small ponds or lakes. The sloughs
are filled with water most of the time and contain aquatic plants,
especially the bladderworts, coontail moss, spider lily, bonnets,
and several water or slough grasses that bend in the current.
The islands are mostly of the bay-head type on which the vege-
tation is mainly red bay, sweet bay, wax myrtle, and dahoon
holly, with an undergrowth that includes royal, cinnamon, and
common swamp ferns. Sawgrass usually grows along the edge.
These islands in early stages of their formation are floating
masses of sawgrass and tree grasses. As the organic remains
form a slightly higher island, the next succession is usually
wax myrtle, and this is followed by bays and ferns. Usually
about the time the trees begin to grow their roots penetrate to
the bottom of the slough, and the island becomes anchored.
These islands are usually oval in shape, widest on the upstream
and tapering toward the lower end. The pattern that is de-
veloped therefore appears to indicate the direction in which water
flowed in the past. In Hillsboro Marsh the islands point south-
easterly; in the west section, north of Tamiami Trail (U. S.
Highway 94) they point southeasterly, and south of the Trail
they point southwesterly toward Shark River.
The hammock-and-glades section extends north, west, and
south from the vicinity of Forty-Mile Bend on Tamiami Trail
(distance from Miami). The topographical arrangement of
sloughs and islands is very much like that described for the
ridge-and-slough section. The sloughs, however, are marl glades
in which there is a layer of 2 to 14 inches of marl overlying the
rock, and the hammocks are built up on the weathered and partly
leached, honeycombed oolitic limestone. The hammocks are 6
to 18 inches higher than the surrounding glades. Vegetation on
them varies considerably, from a nearly pure stand of cabbage
palm to a mixture of live oak, cabbage palm, gumbo limbo, wild
citrus, and tamarind trees, with many vines and ferns. The in-
tervening glades north of Tamiami Trail usually are covered with
pond cypress and some sawgrass and wax myrtle. South of the
Trail the vegetation of the open glades is mainly a sparse growth
of sawgrass and poverty grass, with arrowhead, cattails, myrtle,
and willows around the open water holes or sloughs.
The sandy coastal ridge, which is several miles wide and a few

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades 49

feet high, borders the Everglades on the east from Miami north-
ward. On these sandy soils the native vegetation is scattered
pines, numerous low-growing saw palmettos, scrub oak, rosemary,
and a number of smaller plants. On the west side north of Collier
County and north and east of Lake Okeechobee, the sandy land
is chiefly low and flat with an irregular pattern of poorly drained
areas, hammocks on which the soil is fairly well drained, and in-
termediate areas that are imperfectly drained. The poorly
drained areas are usually open prairies of switch grass and other
native grasses, with cattails, arrowhead, and other water plants
in the ponds. The hammocks have luxuriant vegetation that may
be mostly cabbage palm or live oak, or mixtures of them with
wild tamarind, figs, vines, and ferns. On the imperfectly drained
land, which makes up a large part of the flatwoods, the vegeta-
tion is mainly saw palmetto and pine, with wiregrass, broom
grass, and gallberry.
The rock rim west and southwest of Miami consists mainly of
porous oolite, with here and there a thin cover of sand or a pocket
of clay. The part bordering the sawgrass and ridge-and-slough
areas is only slightly higher than the Everglades proper. On
this part the vegetation is mostly sparse sawgrass, switch grass,
and beard grass; there are a few bay heads on which are wax
myrtle and other trees or shrubs. The higher part of the rim,
along the southeastern boundary, is covered with Cuban pine,
palmetto, wiregrass, and switch grass. Some of the hammocks
in this part have a dense cover of live oak, palms, and many
other tropical or subtropical trees, and a luxuriant growth of
vines and ferns.
The coastal marshes, between the rock rim and the coast, have
over most of their area a native cover of sparse sawgrass and
needle grass. In the southern part, myrtle and bay grow along
the drainage ways. In the tidal swamps there are mangrove
forests, chiefly red mangrove in the eastern part and black man-
grove near the southern tip of the State. The cover on the
brackish marl in the southern part of the area is mainly low
shrubs and grasses, with some cabbage palm, native mahogany,
and buttonwood.

Topographic Survey
The maps covering the Everglades region available in 1940
were compilations from the incomplete survey by General Land
Office and from unrelated local surveys of relatively small por-

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

tions of the area. The different maps and surveys were based on
different controls, both for planimetric and for topographic meas-
urement. Moreover, many changes had occurred since those
maps were made, especially in land surface elevations as a re-
sult of subsidence of organic soils following drainage and culti-
vation. It was necessary, therefore, that the Soil Conservation
Service make a survey of the whole region as a basis for its land-
capability classification and water-control studies.

The Base Map
As control for making the base map, the positions of the U. S.
Coast and Geodetic Survey triangulation and traverse stations
were platted by coordinates, according to transverse Mercator
projection, using meridian 81" from Greenwich as base, on a
scale of 1 inch equals 2 miles. The stations platted were those
along the east coast and across the Everglades Drainage Dis-
trict at the south shore of Lake Okeechobee and along U. S.
Highway 94. The southeast corner of Hendry County was located
by third-order closed traverse circuit from the Coast and Geo-
detic Survey station at Clewiston, checked by a line from Town-
ship 46, Range 42 to Immokalee some 20 miles to the west.
State Road Department location traverses, Soil Conservation
Service traverses, and land lines platted by the General Land
Office were adjusted between the control points mentioned
above. Several hundred land corners were found during the
survey. The border of the Everglades shown on the accompany-
ing maps is the boundary between the organic and the mineral
soils (between the vast body of peat and the sand, marl, and
rockland soils) as determined by the soil-conservation survey.

The datum plane for elevations used in this bulletin is mean
sea level as determined by the U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey.
Level circuits of the survey by the Soil Conservation Service
were closed on Coast and Geodetic Survey bench marks of their
first-order level line along the east coast and their second-order
level lines west from Miami and West Palm Beach. Elevations
referred to this datum are approximately 1.44 feet less than
those referred to Okeechobee datum which has been commonly
used in drainage surveys in this area.
Secondary base levels were run from South Bay to Fort
Lauderdale along State Roads 25 and 84 (new numbering),

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades

checking on bench marks of the State Road Department set at
about 21/2-mile intervals. A similar line was run down the west
side of the Everglades from Lake Okeechobee to Tamiami Canal,
setting bench marks from which to run topography lines west of
Miami Canal. Another base level line was run east from Belle
Glade to State Road 7 and then south to Fort Lauderdale. These
lines were tied at each end to bench marks of Coast and Geodetic
Topography lines generally followed land lines, but departed
therefrom where specially difficult terrain was encountered or
where lines more easily traversed along highways, railroads, or
embankments would furnish as usable data. In the soft, wet
areas of the ridge-and-slough and hammock-and-glades divisions
(see Fig. 2), and over most of the land south of Tamiami Canal,
it was necessary to follow random courses, which were tied as
frequently as possible to located land corners. Land-surface ele-
vations were determined to 0.1 foot at 330-foot intervals, and
depths of the peat soil were measured by probings at intervals of
660 feet.
Approximately 2,000 miles of levels were run by Soil Conser-
vation Service engineers. Some 440 miles were base levels for
control. Of the approximately 1,560 miles of topography levels,
about 440 were run over the sawgrass plains in Palm Beach
County, 240 over the sand prairies and hammock-and-glades land
between Caloosahatchee River and Tamiami Canal, 420 in the
hammock-sawgrass and ridge-and-slough land between West
Palm Beach Canal and Tamiami Canal, 160 south of Tamiami
Canal, and 300 in the sandy area west, north, and east of Lake
Okeechobee. These lines were supplemented by data supplied by
the Corps of Engineers, U. S. Army, by the U. S. Coast and
Geodetic Survey, by engineers of drainage subdistricts in the
vicinity of the lake, by the West Palm Beach Water Company,
and by the Seaboard Railroad.
The results of the leveling are shown on the map of water-
control recommendations, by contours over the main body of
organic soils and some bordering mineral soils, and by occasional
representative figures in the northern part of the region. Loca-
tions of the contours must be recognized as only approximate,
for in some of the least accessible parts of the central and south-
ern Everglades and in the Big Cypress section the survey lines
were 6 miles or more apart, and in some places there may have
been appreciable subsidence of the peat surface since the eleva-

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

tions were determined in 1940-42. The map is believed, how-
ever, to show fairly the general topography of the area and to
serve reliably for planning water-control and water-conserva-
tion measures in the region.
Approximate contours on the surface of the rock underlying
the organic soils are shown in Figure 15. The data obtained
show the rock surface to be very uneven, but are not in sufficient
amount to warrant an attempt to map more than the general
configuration, as shown. The information has been used in
estimating the amounts of rock excavation required for the
water-control works recommended in a later chapter. A pros-
pective farmer doubtless can use the map of physical land con-
ditions more satisfactorily in getting information as to soil depth
on tracts in which he may be interested.

Special Transportation Used
Because there were few roads suitable for commercial types of
motor vehicles, special means had to be used to transport the sur-
vey crews and their equipment over the greater portion of the
area surveyed. About 15 miles of line were run by walking,
where no other means of travel was possible, but the continuous
wading knee deep or deeper through the soft peat and cutting
through the dense growth of sawgrass was very exhausting,
and the lack of drinking water added to the hardship.
In the area of organic soils, field parties of the topographic
survey and the soil-conservation survey traveled together for
most economical use of the special transportation equipment.
Elsewhere, for the most part, better progress was obtained by
parties working independently.
On the coastal ridge and the northern sand prairies, ordinary
pick-up trucks served to transport men and equipment, frequently
with oversize tires for better traction on loose ground. "Con-
verted" pick-up trucks were used in the southern and western
parts of the Region, where the sandy lands are interspersed with
sloughs, hammocks, rock outcrops, and wide stretches of saw-
palmetto. These vehicles were ordinary 1/2-ton trucks with a
wide platform body, a heavy-duty rear end, a second transmis-
sion added in series with the first, and additional tires to give
extra bearing and traction.
On the sawgrass plains, where the most serious obstacles were
scattered clumps of myrtle and occasional "'gator holes," the

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades 53

a *i a a s s Ia Ia Ia


| T-38-S
LAKE -T-40-S







I0 0 10 20 MILES

Fig. 15.-Approximate contours on the rock surface under the organic
soils in the Everglades Region.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

crawler-type tractor with long cleats on the tracks (Fig. 16) was
used to transport men and equipment and to break line ahead
of the surveyors. The wooden cleats gave 2 to 3 times the bear-
ing surface of the regular tracks. A 4- by 10-foot sled was
pulled behind to flatten the vegetation between the tractor tracks.
There were instances of one of these tractors bogging down in a
'gator hole, and each necessitated weeks of effort to extricate
the machine.
Over the saturated to water-covered peat of the ridge-and-
slough areas, except south of Highway 94, the "air-boat" (Fig.
17) was the only practicable means of travel. The water was
generally too shallow for a boat with submerged propeller or
rudder, and the peat was very soft, from a few inches to more
than 10 feet deep; but there were numerous ponds or lakes of
considerable depth. These boats were square-nosed, flat-bot-
tomed craft about 6x16 feet, driven by airplane engine and pro-
peller mounted over the after part and guided by a large rudder
in the propeller blast.
The most satisfactory means of transport in the hammock-
and-glades area, and in all the territory south of Tamiami Trail,
was a "'glades buggy" (Fig. 18) with 3 axles mounting 12 tires.

Fig. 16.-A tractor with long cleats on the tracks, transporting camp and
surveying equipment over Everglades peat.

1?* ~~~

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades 55

The middle and rear axles were driven from a secondary drive
shaft through 2 transmission gear sets connected in series. This
gave several speeds of travel, ranging from 1/2 to 25 miles per
hour; the lowest was often necessary to avoid bogging down in
soft, slippery soil. Each driven axle of the 'glades buggy was
suspended separately so that it could adjust to very uneven
ground surface independently of the others, to avoid straining
the frame.
A vehicle available during the latter part of the survey was
the amphibious "weasel" (Fig. 19), designed during the War for
use in Navy operations. It was specially useful in surveying
areas of soft soils with interspersed ponds and water channels
too deep for non-floating vehicles. It could travel cn hard roads
at speeds up to 25 miles per hour.

The Soil-Conservation Survey
The soil-conservation surveyors studied and mapped the land
conditions. They covered all the area within the Everglades
region as defined on page 5. The extent of the survey is shown
in Figure 2. They located and marked on the maps the boundar-
ies of the soil conditions that influence the use and management
of the land: In the organic soils, the nature of the peat or muck,

Fig. 17.-The "air boat" will navigate water too shallow or too filled with
vegetation for use of submerged propeller and rudder.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

its depth, and the kind and depth of underlying material; and
in the sandy soils and marls, the texture of surface soil, amount
of organic matter, apparent permeability, and thickness of each
soil layer. The surface slope of the mineral soils was mapped
wherever it was found to be enough to affect the use or manage-
ment of the land. The surveyors also showed the land used for
farm crops and groves, and the cover of the undeveloped land
and of the pastures.
The survey of the land was accompanied, as has been stated,
by studies of the underlying rocks, the ground-water relation-
ships, and the altitude and slope of the land surface. The facts
obtained about the soil and these other features permit a fairly
exact determination of the land that is suitable for farming and
of that best suited for other uses.

Map of Physical Land Conditions
The map of physical land conditions (in 38 sheets made to
accompany this bulletin) shows soil types, depth of the organic
soils and marls, slope of the sandy soils and rocklands, and the
land use or cover, by means of brown symbols and boundary lines.
The first part of each 3-part symbol is a number which desig-
nates the soil type. Numbers up to 63 designate peat or muck

Fig. 18.-A 'glades buggy, designed for transport in the
hammock-and-glades area.

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades

soils; those from 70 to 74 the marls; and those from 75 to 98
sandy soils. Numbers higher than 98 identify the rocklands and
miscellaneous land types such as swamps and made land.
The second symbol shows depth of the soil material. Depth
classes of the peats and mucks are: 1, less that 36 inches; 2,
36 to 60 inches; 3, 60 to 96 inches; and 4, 96 inches or more.
Each of these symbols designates depth of the organic layers
to the underlying limestone, marl, or sand. On areas of the
marl soils, symbols indicating depth to the underlying limestone
are: 1, less than 12 inches; 2, 12 to 24 inches; and 3, 24 inches
or more. On areas of the sandy soils, rockland, and miscellan-
eous soils the second of the 3 symbols is a slope symbol; A slopes
are less than 2 percent, B slopes are between 2 and 5 percent.
The third part of each symbol is a letter or group of letters
to designate land use of the cropland and urban areas and the
kind of cover on pastures and undeveloped lands. These symbols
are: L, cropland; LG, groves; H, urban or industrial uses; X,
idle land; P, pasture or range grasses; S, sawgrass; XP, saw
palmetto; FB, myrtle and bay; FC, cypress; FH, hammock vege-
tation, cabbage palm and hardwoods; FP, pines and saw palmetto;
FM, mangrove; and M, mixed grasses and water plants.
.Colors on the map show the capability of land for farming and
other uses. Altogether (throughout the country) there are 8
Fig. 19.-The amphibious "weasel" in service.

;ii~S"cr~ -~

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

land-capability classes. Class I land does not occur in the Ever-
glades region. Where it does occur it is nearly level, produc-
tive land which can be farmed without any particular limitations.
All land covered by the Everglades survey must be farmed sub-
ject to the limitations of water control and special fertilizing
needs. The land most suitable for cultivation is therefore in
class II, shown on the map by yellow. Class III land, shown in
red, is also suitable for cultivation and for growing a wide variety
of crops, although its use or productivity is more limited or the
corrective measures must be more intensive than on class II
land. Land of class IV, shown in blue, is suitable at best for
certain forms of limited cultivation. The rocklands, for example,
are suitable for fruit trees and some tomatoes, but not for other
crops. The shallow peat and peaty muck can be used for crops
only during dry years because water control is difficult. The
white, poorly drained sands need very heavy fertilizing and also
water control if they are to be used for crops. All of these are
called class IV. The class IV peats and sandy lands are ordin-
arily better used for grazing than for cultivation. Class V land,
shown in green, is suitable only for grazing or timber production.
Classes VI and VII do not occur in the Everglades region. Class
VIII land, shown in purple, is too wet or otherwise unsuitable for
any cultivation or grazing or for productive woodland. Much
of it, however, is good for wildlife or for water storage.
Cropping and pasture uses of land throughout the Everglades
region depend on necessary control of runoff and of water table
as well as on the nature of the soils.
Descriptions of the soils and their land-capability classifica-
tion are given in this chapter. The most suitable crops for the
different types of land and some suggestions for use and manage-
ment of the land are given on pages 135 to 165. More specific
information for use of the different kinds of land, especially as to
cropping methods and fertilizers, will be made available from
time to time by the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station.
The general pattern of soils and land-capability classes in the
whole area surveyed is shown by the map of generalized land
conditions. Concerning distribution of the larger map, see
page 7.

Survey Methods
The field survey was made on aerial photographs having a scale
of 1:40,000, which is about 11/2 inches to the mile. The mapping

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades

has been reduced for publication to a scale of 1 inch to the mile.
Methods of transportation used to reach different parts of the
Everglades have been described elsewhere. For economy in use
of the special vehicles over most of the organic soils, the data
relating to soils and to topography of these lands were obtained
by specialists of both kinds working in the same party.
The intensity of coverage varied greatly, according to nature
of the land, existing use, and probable capability for use. In the
areas of peat and muck soils, the land now cultivated was inves-
tigated in every field where necessary, to locate the significant
boundaries. On the open sawgrass plains, east-west lines were
run every 6 miles and supplementary north-south lines were run
wherever additional information appeared to be necessary.
Soundings to determine the depth of peat were taken along these
lines by probing to the underlying limestone or marl every 330
feet in the early part of the survey. Later, these soundings
were made every 660 feet. Borings into the peat and marl were
made with a 2-inch auger every half mile. The samples obtained
were examined and were preserved for further observation and
analysis wherever the material differed appreciably from that
obtained in nearby borings. Holes were dug at each mile
post if water was not on the surface, in order to obtain the depth
to the water table. More detailed information on the water table
was obtained later, as described in the section on water control
(pp. 106 and 107). On the sawgrass plains, where the aerial
photographs lack distinguishing features, distances were chained
in order to determine locations accurately.
The ridge-and-slough sections were examined at intervals close
enough to find the significant boundaries in nature and depth
of the peat. Locations of islands could be sketched readily from
the photographs. Definite lines were not followed in this map-
ping, but the locations were identified on the aerial photographs.
The hammock-and-glades country was crossed by lines about
every 6 miles.
The sandy mineral soils were surveyed by driving every road
and trail and by covering the intervening land on foot, making
numerous stops to bore into the soil and examine the different
soil layers. In this way the different soils were identified and
mapped. Special attention was given to locating the boundaries
that would influence the use and management of the land. About
the same methods were used in surveying the rockland.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

Cultivated areas of the marl land were examined closely and
borings were made in or near every field. Undeveloped areas of
this soil were reached by lines no more than 2 or 3 miles apart,
along which borings were made to find out the nature and depth
of the marl.
Information shown on the maps of the 15 eastern townships
of Collier County was taken from the soil survey of Collier
County, Florida, which was made by Florida Agricultural Exper-
iment Station and the Bureau of Plant Industry, Soils, and
Agricultural Engineering.

Soils and Their Capability
The soils in the main Everglades are primarily the peats and
mucks. The high Rockdale rockland, which is suitable for groves,
occupies the ridge or rim that extends southwestward from
Miami. East and west of the Everglades and of Lake Okeecho-
bee there are sandy soils that range from the deep, white,
drouthy, very rapidly permeable sands on the east coast to the
gray or grayish-brown sandy soils, located mostly in the western
part of the district, which are wet and are underlain by sandy
clay. In all, there were described and mapped 64 different
organic and mineral soils in the area covered by the survey, each
having distinct characteristics that make it different from the
others. These soils are members of 31 different soil series and 8
miscellaneous land types.
For many practical purposes, and especially for studying and
classifying the capability of the land for different uses, these
soils may be considered in 8 groups. The organic soils, for
example, make up 1 group because they have many characteris-
tics in common and are distinctly different from the marls and
the sandy soils. The different peats and mucks, however, have
different capabilities for farming. The marls and calcareous
sandy soils make up a second group; other sandy soils are divided
into 4 groups according to the nature of the sand, the distinctive
features brought about by variations in the water table, and
the presence of layers in the soil that retard the movement of
water. The rocklands suitable for orchards and groves con-
stitute the seventh group of soils, and the miscellaneous swamps,
marshes, and wet rockland are the eighth group. The names of
the soil groups, their relative degree of wetness, and the symbols
used to designate them throughout this bulletin are:

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades 61

A. Poorly drained (wet) soils
Al Peat and muck
A2 Wet marls and calcareous sandy soils
A3 Wet sandy soils
B. Imperfectly drained soils
B1 Gray or dark sandy soils with subsoils containing some clay
B2 Gray sand with brown hardpan subsoil
C. Excessively drained soils
C1 Incoherent sands
C2 Rockland, sandy and clay phases
D. Miscellaneous lands
D1 Wet rockland, marshes, swamps, and made land

Descriptions of the soils are given in Table 4 and the principal
characteristics of each are presented in the following pages.
Suggestions for use and management of the soils are given in
the final chapter of this bulletin.
Peat and Muck Soils.-The peat and muck soils have been
formed from partly decayed plant materials. They make up 40
percent of the land covered by the survey. They are designated
in this report as soil group Al, and make up subclasses designated
as Al in land-capability classes II, III, IV, V, and VIII. None
of the organic soils is in land-capability class I, because they
are subject to subsisdence whenever they are drained, and they
cannot be farmed without special practices for drainage, water
control, and correction or maintenance of soil fertility.
Farmers not already acquainted with the Everglades are urged
to read this bulletin and the publications of the Everglades Exper-
iment Station and also to talk with the county agent or with one
or more farm operators before they undertake to produce crops
on the peat land. The peat and muck soils that are suitable for
cultivation can be made highly productive, but the management
of such land requires special attention to the questions of water
control, fertilizers, and plant diseases and pests. Special deficien-
cies in copper, manganese, zinc, boron, or other elements may
require correction in addition to the usual fertilizer needs.
All the peat and muck soils are dark brown to nearly black in
color. They were formed in marshes or swamps by the partial
decay of plant materials, with some admixture of mineral soil in
the case of the muck. Peat consists of 65 percent or more of
plant remains, with relatively little mineral matter. Muck con-
tains 25 to 65 percent of organic matter mixed with sand, silt,
and clay (17). Peaty muck in this region is usually a thin layer
of peat over muck. The peat and muck soils differ from each
other in the kind of plant material that they contain, in depth,


II Water Movement Reaction
Soil Group or Type Area Surface I Subsoil Underlying of Organic Native Land-Capa-
Soil Material Over Through Surface Matter Vegetation ability Class
I Surface Soil Soil
Acres Percent H Percent

A. Poorly drained (wet) soils
Al. Peat and muck
10 Everglades peat
11 Everglades peat
over shallow
12 Everglades peat
over shallow
14 Everglades peat
over deed




sand 41,696

20 Okeechobee muck 30,742
21 Okeechobee muck
over shallow
sand 1,366

30 Okeelanta peaty
muck 26,127

40 Loxahatchee peat 505,825
41 Loxahatchee peat
over shallow
sand 57,904
42 Loxahatchee peat
over shallow
marl 161,046
43 Loxahatchee peat
over deep sand 16,022

* Less than 0.05 percent.

Black, finely Light, felty, Limestone
18.1 fibrous, well fibrous brown
decomposed or- peat.
ganic material,
.6 6-18 inches.

.7 Dark gray to Brown, felty, Limestone
black mixture fibrous peat.
of decomposed
organic matter
and mineral
6 in. to 4 ft.

Dark gray to Black, plastic Limestone
.5 black finely muck, 2-12
fibrous, well inches, under-
decomposed or- lain by brown
ganic layer, fibrous peat.
6-18 inches.

10.6 Black, finely Soft, felty or Limestone
fibrous spongy spongy brown
peat, 1 or 2 fibrous peat.
1.2 inches.

Poor Fair 5.5-6.5 85-92 Sawgrass III-Al.
classes 1
and 2 of soil
10 are class

Poor Poor 5.2-6.8 30-65 Custard


Poor Fair 5.5-6.8 65-85 Sawgrass, II-Al;
willow and shallow
elder, over

Poor Fair 5.0-6.5 92-96 Pond and VIII-A1.
spider lilies,



Water Movement Reaction
Soil Group or Type Area Surface Subsoil Underlying of Organic Native Land-Capa-
Soil Material Over IThrough Surface Matter Vegetation ability Class
I _Surface Soil Soil
Acres Percent pH Percent
50 Everglades peaty Black, finely Erown, fibrous Limestone Poor Fair 6.0-6.5 85-90 Sawgrass III-Al.
rhuck 34,990 .7 fibrous, well .elty peat. Depth
51 Everglades peaty decomposed or- classes 1
muck over shallow nnic material, and 2 of soil
sand 7,717 .2 mewhat 50 are class
53 Everglades peaty mucky, IV-Al.
muck over deep 6-18 inches.
sand 2,195 *

60 Gandy peat 7,301 .2 Reddish brown Limestone Fair Fair Bay, V-A1.
61 Gandy peat over fibrous woody myrtle,
sand or marl 11,964 .2 peat, some- ferns.
what granu-
lar when dry,
36-96 in.

62 Brighton peat 22,681 .5 Brown, fibrous Light brown, Sandy or Poor Fair 4.0-5.0 85-95 Sawgrass III-Al.
felty peat, fibrous sand clay
24-96 in. felty peat.

63 Istokpoga peat 292 Light brown or Fine sand Very Very 4.0 or White and V-A1.
brown fibrous poor poor less red bay,
woody peat, few cypress,
3-17 feet. and under-
Cultivated areas growth of
are dark brown. briars.

Total, group Al 1,922,539 40.3

A2. Wet marls and cal- Gray or dark Gray or light Plastic, com- Poor Poor 7.0-8.5 10-15 Sawgrass IV-A2.
careous sandy soils gray heavy silt gray heavy pact light
70 Flamingo marl 2,187 loam or silty silty clay loam, gray or
clay loam marl, 5 in.; very greenish
7 inches. compact and marl over
plastic, 20 in. limestone

Less than 0.05 percent.


Water Movement Reaction
Soil Group or Type Area Surface Subsoil Underlying ------ of Organic I Native Land-Capa-
Soil Material Over Through Surface Matter I Vegetation ability Class
Surface Soil Soil |

Acres Percent

71 Hialeah mucky


72 Ochopee marl 7,169
72S Ochopee marl,
shallow phase 372,774
73 Ochopee fine
sandy marl 623
73S Ochopee fine
sandy marl,
shallow phase 8,677

74 Perrine marl 39,690
74S Perrine marl,
shallow phase 66,592
74V Perrine marl,
very shallow
phase 81,754
74X Perrine marl,
shallow phase
(peat substratum) 14,368
74T Perrine marl,
tidal phase 58,537
74P Perrine marl
(peat substratum) 61,429

75 Copeland fine sandy
loam, shallow
phase 2,350

76 Keri fine sand

Black oxidized Gray or light Limestone
.3 organic ma- gray fine
trial, 2-6 sand.
inches and light
gray marl, 4-8
in.; or the lay-
ers in reverse

.1 Gray or light Marl; lenses of Limestone
brownish gray fine sand in the
7.8 marl fine sandy marl.

.8 Light brown or Lighter colored Limestone
brownish gray marl.
1.4 friable silt loam
marl. Tidal
phase is
1.7 affected by
salt water.

Dark gray to Brownish gray Moderately
almost black fine sandy clay. hard lime-
S loamy fine stone

.1 Gray or brown- Lirht gray Sand
ish gray fine marl.
sand, 6-12

pH Percent

Poor Poor 6.0-7.0 10-15 Sawgrass


Poor Poor 7.1-8.5 10-15 Sawgrass, IV-A2

Poor Poor 7.0-8.5 15-18 Sawgrass, II-A2;
myrtle, shallow
bay, some phase,
cypress. IV-A2;
tidal phase

Imper- Imper- 6.0-7.0 Medium Cabbage pal- IV-A2
feet feet metto, few
to to pine and
poor poor oak.

Poor Poor 7.5-8.5 Medium Grasses, II- A2

* Less than 0.05 percent.

_ _


Water Movement Reaction Land-Capa-
Soil Group or Type Area Surface Subsoil Underlying I of Organic Native ability Class
Soil Material Over IThrough Surface Matter Vegetation
SSurface I Soil Soil
Acres Percent pH Percent
77 Manatee fine Black fine Light gray fine Marl or soft Very Very 6.0-7.0 Medium Grasses II-A2
sandy loam 6,770 .1 sandy loam 8 sandy clay. limestone poor poor
to 20 inches.

78 Parkwood fine Dark gray or Mottled yellow Marl over Poor Poor 5.5-7.0 High Water oak, II-A2
sandy loam 17,531 .4 black fine and gray fine limestone to live oak,
sand, 9-16 sand, 12-14 medium cabbage
inches. inches. palm.

Total, group A2 750,454 15.7

A3. Wet sandy soils Light gray. Incoherent white Limestone Poor Good 5.5-6.7 Very Mainly IV-A2
80 Arzell fine sand 169,119 3.5 nearly white fine sand, 50-60 low water
loose fine inches. grasses,
sand, 2-3 some
inches. cypress and

81 Charlotte fine Grayish brown Yellowish brown Poor Good 5.5-6.5 Medium Cypress and III- A3
sand 13,390 .3 or light or brownish to marsh
brown fine yellow fine low vegetation.
sand, 8-10 sand, 16-18 in.;
inches, grad- grades into
ing into white loose
lighter colored fine sand.
sand, 4-6

82 Davie fine sand 73,321 1.5 Gray or light Light gray fine Limestone Poor Good 5.5-6.5 Low Switch grass IV-A3
82S Davie fine sand, gray fine sand, 28-30 to and other
shallow phase 6,244 .1 sand. inches, lower medium grasses.
part almost
white; a brown,
yellowish brown,
or black layer
just above the
rock, 36-40
inches beneath

Less than 0.05 percent.


Soil Group or Type Area Surface Subsoil Underlyir
Soil Material

Acres Percent
83 IYavie mucky fine Dark gray mix- Same as for Limestone
sand 159,324 3.3 ture of well Davie fine
83S Davie mucky fine oxidized organic sand (82).
sand, shallow matter and fine
phase 5,644 .1 sand.

84 Delray fine sand 66,500 1.4 Dark gray or Light gray or Limestone
black fine sand, grayish yellow
12-30 inches. fine sand.

85 Immokalee fine Gray or dark Lighter colored Limestone
sand 345,509 7.2 gray fine sand, fine or very fine
8 inches. sand, 28-32
inches, lower
part almost
white. Under-
lain by black
stained layer,
4-6 inches,
usually over
rock but which
may be over
white fine sand.

86 Pompano fine Gray or brown- Light gray, Limestone
sand 318,985 6.7 ish gray fine nearly white
sand, 6-8 fine sand, 36
inches; grades inches or more;
into light gray usually a heavy
fine sand. blue clay about
40 inches be-
neath the

Total, group A3 1,158,036

* Less than 0.05 percent.


Water Movement Reaction
S--of Organic Native Land-Capa-
l Over IThrough Surface Matter Vegetation ability Class
Surface Soil Soil I
pH Percent
Poor Good 5.5-6.5 Medium Sawgrass III-A3
to and myrtle.

Poor Fair 5.0-6.5 Medium Cypress, II-A3
to water
high grasses,

Poor Fair 5.3-7.0 Low Pine, pal- IV-A3
to metto, gall.
medium berry, native

Poor Good 5.0-7.0 Low Switch grass, III-AS
to cypress.



Soil Group or Type


Water Movement Reaction
Area Surface Subsoil Underlying -- -- of Organic Native Land-Capa-
Soil Material Over IThrough Surface Matter Vegetation ability Class
Surface Soil Soil
s Percent pH Percent

B. Imperfectly drained
Bl. Gray or dark gray
sandy soils with
subsoils containing
some clay
87 Broward fine sand 114,919
87S Broward fine sand,
shallow phase 45,467
88 Broward fine
sandy loam 14,541
89 Broward-Ochopee
complex 24,488

90 Felda loamy fine
sand 6,734

91 LaBelle loamy
fine sand 1.857

Li,'ht gray or Yellowish or Limestone
.9 brownish gray grayish yellow
fine sand. fine sand, un-
.3 derlain by
brown or yel-
.5 lowish brown
fine sand or fine
sandy clay.
Rock at 20
inches in the
shallow phase.

Brownish gray Yellowish gray Marl or
.1 or light gray fine sand limestone
loamy fine splotched with
sand, 10-12 yellow and yel-
inches. lowish brown,
12-30 inches;
light gray or
weak yellow
friable fine
sandy clay.

Gray, dark Light gray or Marl over
gray, or brown- light brownish limestone
ish gray fine gray fine sand.
sand, 8-10 about 10 Inches;
inches. a black layer of
organic matter,
sand and clay,
about 10
inches; gray or
grayish brown
fine sand, 10-14

Poor Fair 5.5-6.7

Poor Fair 4.5-6.5

Low Pine, pal- III-BI
to metto,
medium scattered

Low Pine, pal- III-B1
to metto,
medium some native

Good Poor 5.5-6.5 Low Cabbage
to palm,
medium some
live oak.


* Less than 0.05 percent.

* Less than 0.05 percent.


Water Movement Reaction
Soil Group or Type Area Surface Subsoil Underlying of Organic Native Land-Capa-
Soil I Material Over Through Surface Matter Vegetation ability Class
I Surface Soil I Soil
Acres Percent pH Percent

92 Palmdale fine
93 Palmdale loamy
fine sand

94 Sunniland loamy
fine sand



Gray or gray-
.3 ish brown,
8-12 inches,
.2 reading into
lighter colored

Light gray or
93,906 2.0 gray fine sand
or loamy fine
sand, 8-10

Compact grayish Marl over
yellow sandy limestone
clay, 8-12
inches thick
and 20-30
inches beneath
the surface.
Lighter tex-
tured material

Yellowish gray Marl over
or light gray limestone
fine sand,
mottled with
yellow, under-
lain by mottled
yellow, light
gray, and brown
fine sandy clay.
Limestone or
marl usually
36-40 inches
beneath the

Good Poor 5.5-6.5 Low Cabbage III-B1
to palm,
medium some
live oak.

Poor Fair 5.5-7.0 Medium Pine, pal- III-B1
some cab-
bage palm.

Total, group B1 322,956

B2. Gray sand with brown
hardpan subsoil
95 Leon fine sand 33,674

Gray fine sand, Light gray, al- Limestone
containing most white fine
0.7 enough organic sand. At 12
matter to give inches or more
a "salt and beneath the sur-
pepper" ap- face, a very
pearence. dark brown
layer, 6-10
inches thick,
that is imper-
vious and har-
dens on drying.
It is underlain
by light yellow-
ish gray, almost
white fine sand.

Poor Poor 4.5-5.5 Low Pine, pal- V-B2
to metto,
medium gallberry,

Total, group B2 33,674 0.7

* Less than 0.05 percent.


Water Movement Reaction
Soil Group or Type Area Surface Subsoil Underlying ---- -I of Organic Native Land-Capa-
Soil Material Over (Through Surface Matter Vegetation ability Class
Surface Soil Soil
Acres Percent pH Percent
C. Excessively drained
Cl. Incoherent sands Light gray or Loose white fine Limestone Poor Good Low, Pine and V--C
96 Dade fine sand 29,707 0.6 almost white sand; a thin except palmetto.
fine sand, brownish yellow on ham- On ham-
6-8 inches, layer above the mocks mocks pine,
rock, which where live oak,
occurs within it is vines,
36 inches of low to ferns.
the surface. medium

97 Palm Beach fine Brown or dark Light brown or Fine sand Good Good 7.0-8.0 Medium Sea grapes, III-C1
sand 6,685 .1 brown fine brownish yellow coconut
sand, 10-20 fine sand 40-50 palm, cab-
inches. inches, under- bage palm.
lain by yellow
fine sand.

98 St. Lucie fine Grayish white Incoherent white Sand Good Exces- Low or Pine, pal- V-C1
sand 48,867 1.0 loose fine sand sand, very sive very metto,
containing a deep. low scrub oak.
few woody

Total, group Cl 85.259 1.7

C2. Rockland, sandy and
clay phases
99 Rockdale fine
sand-limestone Deposits of fine Porous Exces- Exces- 7.0-8.0 Low Pine, pal- IV-C2
complex 71,070 1.5 sand on surface limestone sive sive metto,
or in cavities (oolite) native
of porous grasses.

100 Rockdale fine Deposits of red- Porous Exces- Exces- 7.0-8.0 Low Pine, pal- IV-C2
sandy loam- dish clay or limestone sive sive metto,
limestone mixture of sand (oolite) native
complex 93,342 1.9 and clay on grasses.
surface or in
cavities of
porous lime-

Total, group C2 164,412 8.4

Less than 0.05 percent.


Water Movement Reaction
Soil Group and Type Area Surface Subsil Underlying of Organic Native Land-Cap-
Soil Material Over rThrough Surface Matter Vegetation ability Class
Sd Surface Soil Soil I
Acres Percent pH Percent
D. Miscellaneous lands
D1. Wet rockland, marshes,
swamps, and made
101 Alluvial soils,
undifferentiated Wet alluvial Usually VIII-D1
(poorly drained) 8,562 0.2 soils, along marsh
Kissimmee vegetation.

102 Coastal beach 3,687 .1 Sand and shells VIII-Dl
worked over by

103 Made land 10,746 .2 Material hauled VIII-D1
in for filling
low areas, or
dredged from

104 Mangrove swamps Swamps affected Mangrove VIII-D1
(undiffer- by tide water.
entiated soil
materials) 73,070 1.5

105 Mines, pits, and Quarries, dumps, VIII-I71
dumps 3,573 .1 spoil banks,
levees, and pits.

106 Rockland 165,005 3.4 Light gray Sparse VIII-D1
honeycombed sawgrass.
Water at or
near the sur-
face. Peaty
material or
marl in some
of the cavities.

107 Swamps (undiffer- Fresh water Mixed VIII-D1
entiated soil swamps. swamp
materials) 89,321 1.9 vegetation.

Total, group D1 353,964 7.4

Total area surveyed 4,791,294 100.0

Less than 0.05 percent.

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades

and in the nature of the underlying material. The organic
material may rest directly on the limestone or on an intermediate
layer of sand or marl. These differences, especially depth of
the organic material and nature of the immediately underlying
layer, determine the capability of the land for farming and other
uses, subject of course to establishment of adequate water
Okeechobee muck is a nearly black mixture of organic material
and.fine mineral soil that may be as much as 4 feet deep, under-
lain by brown fibrous peat. Deeper alternations of peat and
muck layers may be present. It occupies the belt of custard-
apple land along the southeastern margin of Lake Okeechobee,
mostly south of Pahokee. The area is 32,108 acres, and all but a
few acres of it is at least 5 feet deep over limestone. There may
be a thin layer of marl directly on the limestone. It is excellent
land when drained, irrigated, and fertilized and is placed in
land-capability class II.
Okeelanta peaty muck is found on the willow-and-elder land
which borders the Okeechobee muck on the south and east. It
consists of 6 to 18 inches of finely fibrous, well decomposed
organic matter over a layer of black plastic muck which contains
15 to 35 percent of mineral material, and resembles Okeechobee
muck. There are 25,127 acres of Okeelanta peaty muck on which
the peat and muck layers are at least 5 feet deep. This land
belongs to land-capability class II. The 1,000 acres less than 5
feet deep are in class IV.
Everglades peaty muck contains somewhat less mineral matter
than Okeelanta peaty muck, or from 10 to 15 percent. As a
rule it does not have the subsurface layer of black plastic muck
and the surface layer rests on brown, fibrous felty peat, although
some of it grades toward Okeelanta peaty muck. The total
extent is 34,990 acres, of which 31,816 acres are more than 5 feet
deep. There are 9,912 acres of Everglades peaty muck under-
lain by sand. This land is suitable for cultivation and is in land-
capability class III.
Everglades peat, the soil of the broad sawgrass plains, is the
most extensive organic soil. The upper 6 to 18 inches is nearly
black, finely fibrous peat which contains from 8 to 15 percent
mineral matter. The subsoil is brown, fibrous peat which rests
on the underlying rock, sand, or marl. It has been formed
mostly from sawgrass material. If the peat is more than 5 feet
deep, or is shallower but underlain by marl or sand, cultivation

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

is possible and the land-capability class is III. Heavy applica-
tions of phosphate and potash, and light applications of certain
elements such as copper, manganese, and zinc, usually in the
sulfate form, are needed in addition to water control for success-
ful crop production. Because of these limitations, which are
estimated on the whole to be a little more severe than those
affecting the Okeechobee muck and Okeelanta peaty muck, the
Everglades peat is placed in land-capability class III. Areas
having less than 5 feet of peat over limestone are not suitable
for regular cultivation, because of subsisdence and the difficulty
of water control. They are in land-capability class IV. There
are 401,900 acres of Everglades peat more than 5 feet deep,
464,947 acres of the shallow peat over limestone, and 179,520
acres of the same kind of peat of various depths over sand or
marl. Northeast of the West Palm Beach Canal from Lake
Okeechobee to Twenty-Mile Bend is an old slough in which the
peat was originally formed partly from water plants and was
more loose than the Everglades peat. However, as a result of
partial drainage for many years, it has become compacted and
can scarcely be distinguished from the typical Everglades peat.
The same thing is true of the peat in the Allapattah Flats.
Brighton peat is acid, brown, fibrous felty peat from 2 to 8
feet in thickness, underlain by lighter brown peat. The native
vegetation was sawgrass and it differs from Everglades peat by
having an acid reaction. It is class III land. The total acreage
is 22,681 acres, and on 9,678 acres the peat is less than 5 feet deep
over the underlying sand.
Gandy peat is reddish brown, fibrous, woody peat, which
becomes somewhat granular upon drying. It occurs on islands
in areas of the loose Loxahatchee peat. The islands probably
started to develop as floating masses of vegetation in the marsh
and eventually became anchored and stabilized and covered with
woody vegetation of myrtle and bay. They lie perhaps a foot
higher than the surrounding Loxahatchee peat. The islands
are not easily accessible for grazing or for harvesting of wood.
They are shown on the map as class V land.
Istokpoga peat is light brown or brown fibrous, woody, acid
peat. It occupies 292 acres in Highlands County.
Loxahatchee peat is brown, spongy, fibrous peat, composed
of remains of lilies, water grasses, and other water plants. It
loses more than three-fourths of its volume on drying. Ordinar-
ily it is covered with water most of the year. The area north-

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades 73

west of West Palm Beach is the source of water for that city.
Although cultivation or grazing might be possible for a few
years if this loose peat could be drained, drainage is not recom-
mended because of the extreme shrinkage and settling that will
occur. It is classified as class VIII land, not suitable for any
cultivation. The areas contain numerous water holes in which
fish, frogs, ducks, and other game are abundant. Their most
productive use is for water storage and for wildlife.
Marls and Calcareous Sandy Soils.-The marls most suitable
for cultivation lie in broad areas south of the rockland in south-
ern Dade County. Some narrow bands occupy channels in the
rockland between Miami and Homestead and there are other
smaller scattered areas. Perrine marl is a light brown or brown-
ish gray friable silt loam which contains from 10 to about 15 per-
cent organic matter. The mineral part is almost pure marl. If
the marl is more than 24 inches deep it is class II land, suitable
for cultivation if it receives the necessary special treatments.
There are 101,119 acres of this land, about two-thirds of which
is underlain by a peat substratum. The shallow Perrine marl, 12
to 24 inches deep, and also the very shallow phase of the same
soil, are class IV land. They occupy 162,714 acres. An additional
area of Perrine marl amounting to 53,537 acres is affected by
salt water along the coast. It is not suitable for cultivation and
is shown on the maps as class VIII land.
Hialeah mucky marl has a surface layer of a few inches of
muck over light gray marl, or this order may be reversed. It
may consist of layers of muck and marl. Usually the subsoil is
sandy. There are 12,026 acres of this soil, mostly in Dade
County with small acreages in Broward and Glades counties. It
is class II land.
Ochopee marl occupies 389,243 acres, primarily in Collier and
Monroe counties. All of it is class IV land. It is too low and
shallow for good drainage and could be cultivated only in years
when the water table is low. It affords some grazing in dry
seasons. The surface soil is gray or light brownish gray marl,
and the subsoil is marl containing lenses of fine sand. Ochopee
fine sandy marl contains considerable sand in the surface soil.
Ninety-eight percent of the Ochopee marls are shallow and con-
sist of less than 24 inches of marl over the limestone.
Flamingo marl lies 3 or 4 feet above sea level in the southern
part of Dade County. It is dark gray heavy silt loam or silty clay
loam, over compact, plastic silty clay loam subsoil, which may

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

reach to a depth of 8 feet or more. This soil has agricultural
possibilities but drainage is difficult and there is much danger of
contamination by salt water. It is classified as class IV land.
It occupies 2,187 acres of the area covered by the field survey,
but lies south of the boundary of the Everglades Drainage
Four sandy soils contain considerable lime and for many
practical purposes may be grouped with the marls. Copeland
fine sandy loam occupies 2,350 acres in Collier and Monroe coun-
ties. It is a dark gray, almost black soil with a brownish gray
fine sandy clay subsoil which rests on limestone. Only the
shallow phase occurs in the area surveyed. It is class IV land.
The other 3 calcareous sandy soils are in the northern part of
the district. Parkwood fine sandy loam is a gray or dark gray
fine sand with mottled sandy subsoil underlain by marl. Manatee
fine sandy loam has a surface soil that is nearly black and a light
gray, heavy, sandy clay subsoil which rests on marl. Keri fine
sand is a gray or brownish gray soil over light gray marl sub-
soil. All 3 of these soils are class II land.
Wet Sandy Soils.-The wet sandy soils occupy 1,158,036 acres,
nearly one-fourth of the area covered by the survey. They are
too wet for cultivation without artificial water control for drain-
age and irrigation. The most desirable of these soils for culti-
vation is the dark-colored Delray fine sand. It has a surface soil
12 to 30 inches thick of dark gray to black fine sand. The sub-
soil is light gray or yellow fine sand. Some areas are underlain
by limestone at a depth of less than 40 inches. There are 66,500
acres of this soil. It is class II land.
Wet sandy soils suitable for cultivation occupy nearly half a
million acres. More than half of this area, or 318,985 acres, is
Pompano fine sand. It is a gray or brownish gray fine sand with
a subsoil of light gray or nearly white fine sand. Usually there
is a layer of bluish gray fine sandy clay at a depth of about 40
inches, which may rest on limestone. Charlotte fine sand
resembles Pompano fine sand in its surface layers but is under-
lain by fine sand. It occupies 13,390 acres. These 2 soils are
class III land.
Davie fine sand is gray or a light gray soil underlain by light
colored, nearly white sandy subsoil. Usually there is limestone
at less than 4 feet. It is class IV land, suitable at the best for
somewhat limited cultivation. It occupies 79,565 acres, of which
about 8 percent is the shallow phase. The Davie mucky fine sand,

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades 75

which contains considerable organic matter and is dark gray to
black in the surface layer, is a slightly better soil and is classified
as class III land. There are 164,968 acres of it, of which 5,644
acres are the shallow phase.
Immokalee fine sand is a gray or dark gray soil underlain by
lighter colored fine sand. The subsoil is almost white. A black-
stained layer 4 to 6 inches thick occurs about 36 to 40 inches
beneath the surface. This dark layer may rest on limestone or on
white sand. This soil occupies 345,509 acres in the northern
counties of the drainage district. It is class IV land.
Arzell fine sand, also class IV land, is a light gray, nearly
white soil, underlain by white fine sand. It occurs mainly on
the edges of the numerous ponds in Palm Beach, Hendry, and
Glades counties. It occupies 169,119 acres. Both the Arzell and
Immokalee soils can be used for truck crops and for citrus in
those locations where the water table can be controlled. They
must have heavy fertilization that includes the minor elements.
Gray or Dark Gray Imperfectly Drained Sandy Soils With Sub-
soils Containing Some Clay.-The soils of group B1 are somewhat
better drained than the wet sandy soils but have wet subsoils part
of the year. One of them, La Belle loamy fine sand, holds
enough moisture in the subsoil that it is classified as class II
land. It has a gray, dark gray, or dark brownish gray surface
soil and light gray or brownish gray upper subsoil over a 10-inch
black layer containing organic matter, sand, and clay. It occurs
in scattered areas primarily in Glades County and occupies only
1,857 acres.
All the other soils in this group are class III land, suitable for
cultivation but requiring intensive management. Broward fine
sand occupies 114,919 acres, and there are 45,467 acres of the
shallow phase of the same soil. Broward fine sandy loam
occupies 14,541 acres. The Broward soils are light brown or
light grayish brown and they have grayish yellow or yellowish
brown subsoils resting on limestone. All the soils in this group
contain just enough clay in the subsoil to give them some water-
holding capacity and make them better soils than the excessively
drained sands. The Broward-Ochopee complex, a mixture of
Broward fine sand and Ochopee marl, occupies 24,488 acres.
Palmdale fine sand and loamy fine sand are gray or grayish
brown soils with grayish-yellow sandy clay in the subsoils which
contain considerable marl or rest on marl. They occupy 13,263
and 7,781 acres, respectively.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

Sunniland loamy fine sand is a light gray or gray soil with
light gray upper subsoil. The lower subsoil is yellow and gray
mottled calcareous fine sandy clay. There are 93,906 acres of it.
Felda loamy fine sand differs from Sunniland loamy fine sand
because it is located on slightly lower positions. It occupies
6,734 acres.
Gray Imperfectly Drained Sand With Brown Hardpan Subsoil.
-Leon fine sand is such a distinctive soil that it must be placed
in a group by itself. It has a gray surface soil that contains
enough organic matter to give it a pepper-and-salt appearance.
The upper subsoil is light gray, nearly white fine sand. The dis-
tinguishing feature is the very dark brown or nearly black hard-
pan which occurs at depths of 12 to 24 inches. The hardpan is
resistant to an auger or pick and relatively impervious to water
or plant roots. It crumbles readily when first exposed but
hardens on exposure to air. Leon fine sand occupies 33,674 acres.
It is class V land, not recommended for any cultivation. With
suitable treatments it makes fair pasture.
Excessively Drained Incoherent Sands.-Excessively drained
sandy soils are located on the coastal ridge and in the northern
counties of the region. The 3 soils in the group occupy 85,259
acres. The one that has enough water-holding capacity to be
in class III land is Palm Beach fine sand, of which there are
6,685 acres. Palm Beach fine sand is brown or dark brown to a
depth of 10 to 20 inches. Under this the subsoil is light brown
or brownish yellow fine sand containing variable quantities of
shells. It is suitable for truck crops and citrus fruits but needs
irrigation during the dry seasons.
Dade fine sand is a light gray or white fine sand underlain by
loose white fine sand. Limestone rock occurs about 3 feet
beneath the surface. There are 29,707 acres of this soil. St.
Lucie fine sand is grayish white loose fine sand and its subsoil
is very deep, white fine sand which reaches to depths of 4 feet
or more. Neither of these soils is recommended for any culti-
vation. They are in land-capability class V, suitable for native
ranges and woodland. It is not likely that seeding of pastures
would be worth while.
Excessively Drained Rocklands, Sandy and Clay Phases.-The
rockland areas consist of porous limestone known as Miami
oolite. The rock is full of holes and cavities, so that water runs
through it freely. The water table is only a few feet beneath

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades

the surface, which permits irrigation by pumping from shallow
wells. On the higher-lying Rockdale rock land there are thin,
patchy deposits of fine sand mixed in some places with reddish
clay. These deposits may be on the surface or in the cavities.
They hold enough moisture and plant nutrients to permit the
growth of forest cover, or of planted orchards of avocado, citrus,
or other fruits. Before trees are set out the land must be scarified
or holes must be blasted in which to set them. Tomatoes are
grown successfully on a few areas that have been suitably pre-
pared. Because these forms of limited cultivation are entirely
feasible, these rock lands are in land-capability class IV. Rock-
dale rock land is suitable for this kind of cultivation because it
contains the thin deposits of sandy or mixed clay material and
the water table is usually a few feet below the ground surface.
The Rockdale fine sand-limestone complex occupies 71,070 acres,
and the fine sandy loam-limestone complex occupies 93,342 acres.
Miscellaneous Lands.-The miscellaneous lands not suitable for
any cultivation make up 353,964 acres. Alluvial soils undiffer-
entiated are wet, swampy lands along the streams in the north-
western part of the district. Coastal beach is mostly sand
deposits. Made land has been filled in, and is mostly former
swamp or lagoons. Mines, pits, and dumps is the general desig-
nation given to old quarries and other places that have been
excavated. Swamps are mapped in the fresh-water areas, and
mangrove swamps occur along the coast just above salt water.
The low-lying rock land is different from the Rockdale rock land
previously described. It is low, wet, and not suitable for any
cultivation. All the land types in this group are class VIII land.

Water Conditions in the Everglades Region
Sources and Quality of Water
The water in the Everglades region comes mostly from pre-
cipitation within the region, which averages about 54 inches
per year (see Table 3), and that upon Lake Okeechobee drainage
basin (Fig. 3) which averages about 51 inches. The quantity of
flow into the region through sub-surface aquifers is negligible
so far as it will affect the general plan of water control. How-
ever, in the lower Everglades, and in some places even in the
upper 'Glades, ditches or wells penetrating the underlying rock
may release sufficient flow to increase materially the amount of
pumping required for drainage.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

Lake Okeechobee receives the surface flow from some 4,700
square miles lying to the west and north, about three-fourths of
which drains through Kissimmee River. (The divides are very
poorly defined in many places, being so flat that there may be
drainage flow across them in either direction according to the
distribution of recent rainfall.) Before drainage of the Ever-
glades was begun the only outlet for flood waters from the lake
was by overflow along the southern shore, which occurred at
lake elevation of about 20 feet above mean sea level. The low
portion of the lake rim now has subsided to about elevation 15.
Levees and control works constructed and operated by the War
Department hold the lake level generally between elevations 12.6
and 15.6.
The indications concerning ground water were obtained by
wells drilled by U. S. Geological Survey and Soil Conservation
Service at the locations shown in Figure 14. Beside each Con-
servation Service well into the surface rock, a small well was put
down through the muck to the ground-water table. In each
instance the water level in the drilled well stood at the same ele-
vation as the ground water in the muck, except once in a diked
area while pumping held the water table below the level of water
just outside in Hillsboro Canal. Evidently the water in the soil
and that in the rock are one body. It has been explained herein
(p. 22) that artesian flow from deep strata recharged in distant
areas is prevented by the Hawthorne formation.
The surface and soil waters of the Everglades, including Lake
Okeechobee, are readily usable for domestic needs and irrigation
of crops. The waters in the permeable Miami and Tamiami for-
mations underlying the lower and middle Everglades likewise are
sweet and potable, and are drawn upon for municipal and
industrial supplies along the lower East Coast. These forma-
tions are recharged locally from precipitation within the region.
The water yielded by the occasional solution holes and lenses of
permeable material in the Fort Thompson formation under the
upper Everglades, however, is usually so highly charged with
minerals that it cannot be used for household purposes or
There are indications of an isolated area of fairly permeable
rocks underlying about half of Lake Okeechobee and nearby
lands to the south and east, perhaps 25 feet thick and encountered
at a depth of 12 to 30 feet. The water from this section con-
tains as much as 4,000 to 5,000 parts per million of total solids,

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades 79

chlorides running as high as 1,500 and sulphates 500 parts per
Subsidence of Organic Soils
Everglades sawgrass peat in its natural, saturated condition
weighs about 63 to 65 pounds per cubic foot. When thoroughly
dried in an oven, it loses about two-thirds in volume (7, p. 11)
and three-fourths or more in weight (20). Cultivation further
compacts the surface layer. Natural oxidation of the organic
matter slowly destroys the soil (24). More disastrous locally
are the fires that occasionally get started in the dry soil and
burn for weeks or months until put out by heavy rains.
Most of the deep peat now cultivated in the northern Ever-
glades has subsided as much as 5 feet since drainage was begun
about 30 years ago, and in a few small areas the subsidence has
been as much as 6 feet. When virgin peat or muck is brought
into use the rate of subsidence is rapid at first but decreases
with time. The rate appears to be closely proportional to the
depth of water table. Figure 20 shows subsidence that has
occurred near large outlet canals in the northern Everglades, in
deep peat soil which has been in cultivation during recent years.
The curve of lowering ground surface has been determined from
canal profiles made before the canals were excavated and from
subsequent periodic leveling on the same lines. Up to 1926 drain-
age in this area was mostly by gravity ditches, but since then
pumping for drainage has become general.
The virgin land in this area will not subside as fast when culti-
vated as is shown in Figure 20, because the topsoil has been
changed somewhat by initial subsidence. Recent observations
indicate that when virgin land within a few miles of the large
canals is further drained and brought into cultivation the sub-
sidence loss will approximate 1 foot after 5 years of use and 1.5
to 1.8 feet after 10 years. The peat lands in the northern Ever-
glades that have been cultivated for 10 years or more are now
subsiding at about 1 inch per year. The custard-apple muck
along the southeastern shore of Lake Okeechobee (Ib, Fig. 2)
contains a much higher percentage of mineral matter than the
peat soil and appears to subside at about half the rate.
The effect of drainage upon the land elevations along the main
canals is apparent in examination of the contours on the water-
control map. The contours along the upper portions of Hillsboro,
North New River, and Miami Canals show elevations bordering

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

those drains 2 feet and more lower than the ground elevations
between them. The higher ground between these canals is as
much as 3 feet lower now than originally, as a result of the
canals lowering the water table.

0 5 10 15 20
Years since initial drainage






5 u



25 30 35

Fig. 20.-Subsidence of surface of deep peat soil with drainage and
cultivation, near Okeelanta. Before 1942, drainage was by gravity only.
There was some burning of the soil between 1921 and 1933. Most of the
area was cultivated intermittently for 1 to 3 years prior to 1922, but not
later until the drainage pumps were installed and cultivation resumed.

The relation of subsidence to depth of water table is well
shown by the record from 3 years of experiments at Everglades
Experiment Station, on plots of Everglades peat soil in which
the water table was maintained at pre-determined depths. That
record is summarized as follows:

Average Depth of
Water Table (Feet)

Average Annual
Subsidence (Feet)

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades 81

The plots had been cultivated for several years prior to begin-
ning the experiments. During the 3-year period equal areas in
each plot were planted to sugarcane, vegetables, and forage crops,
and the subsidence shown is the average for the whole plot.
The figures seem to indicate that there is very little loss in the
surface half-foot and in the soil below that there is a loss pro-
portional to its depth above the water table.
The total amount of subsidence in the northern Everglades
since drainage began does not appear to have been affected
materially by the kind of crop grown. Moreover, virgin land
drained by pumping has subsided nearly as much as cultivated
lands nearby, although the topsoil has not been compacted as
in the cultivated fields. Apparently oxidation proceeds faster
before the soil is disturbed than after the surface is compacted.
Evidently it is desirable to avoid draining peat soil until it is
wanted for use.
In planning reclamation of peat lands the probable rate of
subsidence should be considered carefully. The loss in elevation
will decrease the depth of ditches and the height of levees built
of the material, thereby decreasing the capacity of the drains
and the protection against overflow. It is likely to increase the
pumping lift for drainage and to cause greater seepage from
undrained marsh lands. Continuing subsidence will limit the
period of years during which the land may be cultivated
Organizations For Water Control
The Everglades Drainage District was first legally established
in 1907 (see page 10), and redefined by legislative act of June 6,
1913 (ch. 6456). Its 7,150 square miles comprise 951/% percent
of the Everglades region discussed in this bulletin. It has under-
taken only to provide the main outlet drains for included lands.
Sub-drainage districts wholly or partly within the Everglades
Drainage District were authorized by act of June 7, 1919 (ch.
7866). Other drainage districts have been formed under general
drainage laws of the State. Approximately 1,387 square miles
in the Everglades Drainage District and 157 square miles outside
that district have been organized in 33 subdistricts and inde-
pendent drainage districts, to obtain additional works for drain-
age, flood protection, and irrigation.
Dade County Water Conservation District, organized under
chapter 22935 of the legislative acts of 1945, embraces the whole



Baker Haul-over ...........................
B iscayne .......................................

B row n .......................................... ...
Citrus Center (part) ....................
Clew iston .................................. ...
D ade .............................. ............

Dade County Water Conservation

Diston Island ...................................
Eagle Bay ....................................
East Beach ......................................
East Marsh ............................
East Shore ............. .......
Everglades ................... ................

Ft. Lauderdale-Middle River ......
Gladeview .......................................
G oulds ..................... ....................
Hicpochee .................... ..........
Highland Glades ......................
Hollywood Reclamation ................
Indian Prairie ................................
Istokpoga (part) ...........................


Dade ............................
Dade ............................

Palm Beach ...................
G lades .................... ...
H endry .........................
Dade and Broward ......

D ade ...............................

Glades and Hendry ......
Okeechobee ..................
Palm Beach ..................
Broward .........................
Palm Beach .........-.....
(Eleven counties) ........

Broward ........................
Palm Beach ...............
Dade .........................
H endry .........................
Palm Beach .................
Broward .........................
Highlands and Glades..
H ighlands ......................

Sq. Mile






Pumping Plants
Number [ Capacity
SGals p. Min.







Biscayne Bay
Biscayne and Little River
Hillsboro Canal
Caloosahatchee River
Lake Okeechobee
Miami, Biscayne, and Little
River Canals
Biscayne Bay and Card
Lake Okeechobee
Lake Okeechobee
Lake Okeechobee
Dania Cut-off
Lake Okeechobee
Atlantic Ocean and Caloosa-
hatchee River
Middle River
Cross Canal
Goulds Canal
Caloosahatchee River
Cross Canal
Snake Creek Canal
Harney Pond Canal
Indian Prairie Canal







Lake W orth .................................

Little River ............................
Loxahatchee ................................
Napoleon B. Broward ...................

Naranja ..............
Newhall ..............
Old Plantation .......
Pahokee ..................
Pelican Lake ..........
Ritta ......................
Southern .............

South Florida Conservancy ..........
South Shore ...................... .....
Sugarland ............. .........


Palm Beach ..................

Area Pump
(Approx.) Number
Sq. Mile

207 5

D ade ...............................
Palm Beach ..................
Brow ard ......................

Dade .............................
G lades ............................
B row ard ..........................
Palm Beach ....................
Palm Beach ....................
Palm Beach .-..-..-......
Dade ...............................

Hendry and Palm Beach
Palm Beach .................
Hendry and Glades ...


g Plants

Gals p. Min.






West Palm Beach and Hills-
boro Canals
Biscayne Bay
West Palm Beach Canal
North New River Canal,
South New River Canal,
and New River
Military Outfall Canal
Caloosahatchee River
North New River Canal
West Palm Beach Canal
West Palm Beach Canal
Miami Canal
Tamiami and Snapper Creek
Lake Okeechobee
Lake Okeechobee
Lake Hicpochee

* There is overlapping of 5 square miles among these 4 districts.
** Citrus Center Drainage District includes a few square miles additional outside the region.
t Concerning overlapping, see text page 81.
t Concerning overlapping, see text page 81.
Istokpoga Drainage District includes also a greater area outside the region.

. ..................
. .... .............
.... . .............
. .. ..............
-- - - - - ..-- - -

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

county. It has authority to control water levels in fresh-water
streams and reservoirs, with funds provided by taxation. About
1,961 of its total 2,054 square miles lies within the Everglades
Drainage District, and it embraces approximately 482 square
miles in other drainage districts and subdistricts.
The boundaries of these various districts organized for water
control are shown on 1 of the accompanying maps and their
areas in Table 5.

Existing Water-Control Works
The major works constructed for control of water in the region
considered in this report are: (1) The levees built by the War
Department along the south, east, and north shores of Lake
Okeechobee; (2) the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Canals for
regulation of lake levels, now operated by the War Department;
and (3) the canals excavated by Everglades Drainage District to
remove excess water from the lands in the district. In addition
there are the tributary ditches, dikes, and pumping plants
installed by the sub-districts and overlapping independent dis-
tricts, as well as ditches, dikes, and pumping plants installed by
individual landowners.
The principal canals of Everglades Drainage District are the
West Palm Beach, the Hillsboro, the North New River, and the
Miami, connecting the east and south shores of Lake Okeechobee
with the Atlantic Ocean in the vicinity of West Palm Beach,
Deerfield Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami, respectively. Con-
necting the upper reaches of these 4 are Cross and Bolles Canals.
South New River Canal gives Miami Canal another connection
with the Atlantic, just below Fort Lauderdale. Across the full
width of the District in the latitude of Miami is Tamiami Canal.
Lesser drains of Everglades Drainage District are Cpyress
Creek, Snake Creek, and Snapper Creek Canals discharging into
Atlantic Ocean at Pompano and north and south of Miami, and
Indian Prairie Canal draining the northwest corner of the Dis-
trict into Lake Okeechobee. These canals are not adequately
performing the service expected of them, partly because ground
subsidence has decreased their capacities, partly because water
hyacinth (Fig. 21, p. 89) and other obstructions to flow have
not been removed, and, particularly concerning Miami, Hillsboro,
and West Palm Beach Canals, because they never were excavated
to the designed depths.

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades 85

Nearly all land in the Everglades Region that can profitably
be put into cultivated crops requires artificial drainage and also
irrigation for maximum production. Most of the unused sandy
lands and of the peat soils too shallow for agricultural develop-
ment likewise are in most years too wet at some seasons and too
dry at others for use all year as grazing land. Many of the
pumping plants are so arranged that, though they are used
mostly for drainage, in dry periods they can pump water from
the main canals into the laterals to be distributed for irrigating
the farm lands.
Lake Okeechobee.-One levee of the War Department extends
along the south side of Fisheating Creek and the south and east
sides of Lake Okeechobee from near the west district boundary
to high ground at St. Lucie Canal, about 68 miles. This protects
the cultivated lands along the shore against overflow by lake
waters, except those on Kreamer, Torry, and Ritta Islands near
the southeast shore of the lake. The other levee, about 15 miles
in length including some 6 miles along the east side of Kissimmee
River, protects the town of Okeechobee. Construction of these
levees and the appurtenant works was authorized by Congress in
1929 and was practically completed in 1936. The top elevation of
these levees ranges from 32.6 to 34.6 feet above mean sea level,
which is 4.4 to 6.4 feet above the highest waves recorded in the
lake in the 1928 hurricane.
In these levees are 6 hurricane gates which permit drainage
and boat passage into and out from the lake. They are closed
when extreme storm tides are forecast. They extend full height
of the levee, and are designed to be held partly open as desired
to regulate flow through them; but normally they remain wide
open, except the 1 at Moore Haven, and lake levels are regu-
lated by other works. These gates are located at Moore Haven,
Clewiston, Lake Harbor, South Bay, Canal Point, and Okeechobee.
Lake levels are maintained by the War Department as nearly as
possible between elevations 12.6 and 15.6 m.s.l., by discharging
through Caloosahatchee River and St. Lucie Canal those waters
that cannot be stored safely in the lake. Maintenance of depth
for navigation through Caloosahatchee River, the lake, and St.
Lucie Canal is one of the objectives in this regulation.
Caloosahatchee River.-The old drainage canal giving outlet
to Lake Okeechobee westward through Lake Hicpochee and
Caloosahatchee River was enlarged and provided with new con-

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

trol works by the War Department under the Congressional
authorization of 1929. Integral with the hurricane-gate struc-
ture at Moore Haven is a lock for passing boats to and from
the river, and about 20 miles from the lake is the Ortona lock
which also is operated by the War Department. The channel
has a capacity of 2,500 cubic feet per second with the lake at
elevation 15.6. The Moore Haven lock is used in controlling lake
levels; the Ortona spillway is used to maintain water depth for
navigation in the channel above it, and incidentally holds ground
water in the lands along that reach. During rainy seasons the
pasture lands along Caloosahatchee River within Everglades
Drainage District are inundated by surface flow from higher
lands lying to the north and to the south, but little harm results.
Except for truck farming in the vicinity of Moore Haven, lands
once cultivated along Caloosahatchee River in Everglades Drain-
age District now are used mainly for raising cattle. During dry
seasons the ground water moves so readily through the loose top
soil that the land is excessively drained.
St. Lucie Canal.-This waterway extends northeasterly for
about 24 miles from Port Mayaca on the east shore of Lake
Okeechobee and discharges into St. Lucie River just beyond
Everglades Drainage District boundary about 6 miles south of
Stuart. Originally constructed by the District for controlling
the elevation of the lake, it was taken over and improved and
now is operated by the War Department under the 1929 author-
ization. Most of the land tributary to this canal is used for
grazing cattle, although citrus and truck are being grown at
Port Mayaca, and truck near Indian Town.
Near the lake is an old lock-and-spillway, now unused, con-
structed by Everglades Drainage District before the War Depart-
ment took control. Where the canal discharges into St. Lucie
River is a new lock and dam which the War Department con-
structed and uses in controlling the elevation of the lake. The
canal has a capacity of about 5,000 cubic feet per second at
lake elevation 15.6; it does not overflow its banks. Tributary
drains enter through concrete overfalls with fixed spillways, to
prevent erosion of canal and ditches. The farm lands at Port
Mayaca and at Indian Town have gravity drainage and are
irrigated by pumping out of the canal.
West Palm Beach Canal.-From Canal Point on Lake Okeecho-
bee, West Palm Beach Canal extends southeastward and then

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades 87

eastward and discharges into Lake Worth at the south limit of
West Palm Beach. Its total length is 42 miles, with Twenty-
Mile Bend a few miles west of the mid-point.
The western half of the canal, to about 3 miles east of Twenty-
Mile Bend, lies within the area of organic soils. East of this
the land is mostly high enough that the canal water remains
below ground level. For some 10 miles from Lake Okeechobee,
the lands along West Palm Beach Canal are used for growing
sugarcane and truck crops, in Pelican Lake and Pahokee Drainage
Districts. At Loxahatchee is an acreage of citrus and eastward
from State Road 7 truck lands border the canal.
Near the lake is a lock-and-control structure of Everglades
Drainage District, by which canal flow from the lake is regulated
except when the hurricane gate is closed. At West Palm Beach
is another lock-and-control. Sand bars and shoals in the lower
reaches and a section of the canal but partly excavated near
Road No. 7 impede flow. From the Lake to Twenty-Mile Bend,
Road 716 forms a levee along the south side of West Palm Beach
Canal and cultivated lands on the north side are protected from
canal overflow by dikes built by farm owners. East of Twenty-
Mile Bend, State Road 85 forms an embankment along the north
side of the canal and the spoil bank is nearly continuous on the
south side.
Cross Canal, which connects with Hillsboro Canal to the west,
joins West Palm Beach Canal at Twenty-Mile Bend. Between
this point and the lake, Big Mound Canal and Laterals A and B
bring in large amounts of water from the sandy flatwoods area
to the north. Range Line Canal of Lake Worth Drainage Dis-
trict connects with West Palm Beach Canal about midway
between Twenty-Mile Bend and the coast, and other drains of
that district connect farther east. Large quantities of water
are pumped into the upper section of West Palm Beach Canal by
Pelican Lake and Pahokee Drainage Districts, and lesser amounts
by Loxahatchee District and by farmers along the lower reach
of the canal. Most of the drainage pumps are arranged also
to pump from the canal, when desired, into the drainage ditches
for irrigation. Lake Worth Drainage District pumps water for
irrigation from West Palm Beach Canal into its drains.
In periods of heavy precipitation, pumping by the subdistricts
near the lake and inflow from Big Mound Canal and Laterals A
and B frequently raise the water in West Palm Beach Canal
above lake level. At such times flow may be toward the lake from

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

as far as Big Mound Canal. High water in the upper reach of
the canal also causes flow around the end of the highway
embankment at Twenty-Mile Bend to inundate pasture lands
east of that point. During the 7 years 1940 to 1946, flow at Canal
Point was into the lake rather than from it for 24 to 113 days
each year, amounting to 19 percent of the total time. In dry
periods water is admitted from the lake into West Palm Beach
Canal for irrigation. However, to avoid injury to truck crops
on low land near West Palm Beach, the water at the lower con-
trol structure must be held during the cropping season at eleva-
tion 8.0 or below. Therefore, when flow from the lake is per-
mitted in quantity for watering the sugarcane lands in that
vicinity, a great deal is wasted into the ocean.
Hillsboro Canal.-From Hurricane Gate No. 4 in the extreme
south corner of Lake Okeechobee, Hillsboro Canal extends south-
eastward by a series of straight reaches to the Atlantic coast
near Deerfield Beach. The last few miles follow the canalized
tidal reaches of Hillsboro River into the Intracoastal Waterway.
The total length is 51 miles.
Throughout the greater portion of its length, Hillsboro Canal
passes through soils of muck and peat, but from 2 or 3 miles
west of State Road No. 7 it passes through the sandy soils of the
coastal ridge. The area of truck farming near the lake extends
down Hillsboro Canal for about 17 miles, and the bordering lands
through the coastal ridge are developed agriculturally, but the
long middle portion of the canal traverses an area entirely
Near Belle Glade is an old lock-and-control structure of Ever-
glades Drainage District, now unused and in disrepair. Only
the hurricane gate can be used to regulate flow from the lake
into this canal. Near Deerfield Beach is another lock-and-control
of the District, which is used to maintain water elevations in
the lower reaches of the canal. Above Elbow Bend, which is 11
miles above State Road 7, about 13 miles of the channel is of
shallow depth because it was not excavated into the rock as
designed. In this length a dense growth of hyacinths has been
accumulating for a number of years. (See Fig. 21.) Conse-
quently there is little flow from the upper to the lower reach
of the canal.
Along the west side of this canal, as far as the cultivated lands
extend from the lake, is a highway which serves as a levee that
ordinarily prevents overflow from the canal upon the farms west

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades 89

of the road. The farms on the east side of the canal are pro-
tected from canal overflow by dikes constructed by each owner
for his own land. From 3/4 mile east of Elbow Bend to State
Road 7 the spoil banks form nearly continuous dikes.

Fig. 21.-Hillsboro Canal choked with water hyacinth, east of Elbow
Bend Road on waste bank was made for use of the survey parties. (Photo-
graph courtesy East Coast Air Service.)

Hillsboro Canal has several important tributaries. At Six-
Mile Bend, about 91/2 miles from the lake, a junction with Cross
Canal provides connection with West Palm Beach Canal to the
east. Cross Canal, however, carries water from the Hillsboro
more often than to it. About a mile downstream from Six-Mile
Bend, junction is made with Bolles Canal which extends west-
ward and connects with both North River and Miami Canals.
Flow into Bolles Canal from the Hillsboro is slight, however, and
flow contrariwise is even less. Range Line Canal joins the Hills-
boro about 5 miles west of the lock-and-control structure near
Deerfield Beach; other ditches of Lake Worth Drainage District
make junction eastward thereof.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

All the farm lands along the upper reaches of Hillsboro Canal
are drained by pumping into it, through controlled connections
through the road embankment or the farm dikes. All are irri-
gated at times by pumping from the same canal. Lake Worth
Drainage District has gravity drainage into the Hillsboro as
into West Palm Beach Canal, but in the drains are structures to
control outflow, and there are pumps arranged to lift water for
irrigation from the canals into the drainage laterals which dis-
tribute it to the farms.
In seasons of prolonged rains pumping from the cultivated
lands often raises the water in upper Hillsboro Canal above Lake
Okeechobee level, so that flow is toward rather than away from
the lake. Whether relief is obtained through Cross and Bolles
Canals depends upon the water stages in West Palm Beach and
North New River Canals, which do not have obstructions com-
parable to the restricted mid-section of the Hillsboro. During
the 7 years 1940 to 1946 flow at Belle Glade was toward the lake
for 13 to 85 days each year, totaling 15 percent of the entire
period. Because Hillsboro and North New River Canals are
joined near the lake levee, water in the upper reaches of either
canal can pass into or out of the other or into or out of the
lake, depending upon hydraulic gradients and the management
of the control structures.
In periods of low runoff from the lands along the upper
reaches of Hillsboro Canal the lower reaches carry a considerable
flow from Hillsboro Marsh which lies north of the canal and west
of Road No. 7. Water in this usually inundated area flows south-
erly along shallow meandering channels and passes into Hillsboro
Canal through 3 gaps in the spoil bank. Controls have been
built in these gaps to delay this flow, so that canal capacity will
be available during the rainy season for draining the farm lands
below. Retention of water in the Marsh aids in preserving the
soil and wildlife there, and in providing irrigation water for
lands in the coastal area. Surface runoff from grazing lands on
the south is admitted to the canal east of Elbow Bend through
uncontrolled openings in the spoil bank, made by the cattle
In dry periods the control near Deerfield Beach is closed to
hold water in the lower canal reaches for irrigation; but even
with this done, difficulty often is experienced in maintaining an
adequate irrigation supply because so little flow from the lake

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades 91

can pass through the restricted and obstructed middle section
of the canal.
North New River Canal.-This is the only waterway through
the southern Everglades that permits passage of appreciable
quantities of water from Lake Okeechobee to the Atlantic Ocean.
It heads in Hillsboro Canal a few hundred feet east of the hurri-
cane gate near South Bay, and extends southeasterly through 4
straight reaches of 6 to 25 miles each to enter, about 5 miles
southwest of Fort Lauderdale, the canalized channel of New
River which it follows through the coastal ridge and Fort
Lauderdale to the ocean. From the lake to New River the length
is 58 miles.
Except for some 6 miles from its junction with New River,
North New River Canal traverses the muck and peat soils of the
sawgrass plains. For all but 2 miles at the upper end the channel
is excavated 5 to 10 feet into the underlying rock. The truck-
farming area bordering the lake extends down this canal for a
dozen miles from South Bay; for about an equal distance from
the coast, truck farms and citrus orchards are interspersed
among pasture and grazing lands.
A lock-and-control structure of Everglades Drainage District
at South Bay, 21/2 miles from the end of the canal, ordinarily is
used for regulating canal flow from the lake. Another lock-and-
control structure of the District, located about 3 miles from the
junction of the canal with New River, near Davie, is used to
control water stages in the lower reaches of the canal. At
Twenty-Six-Mile Bend, 20 miles upstream from the Davie con-
trol, is a dam of the District with stop-log spillway used for con-
trolling water elevations in the channel above and for diverting
water through similar outlet structures onto low lands to the
east and west. Another dam of the same type has been built
recently in this canal near range line 40/41, to give better con-
trol for conserving water on the undeveloped lands to the west
and protecting farm lands to the east against flood flows in the
canal. Dams with stop-log gates were built in the canal at the
Palm Beach-Broward County line and about 10 miles above, by
Soil Conservation Service and Everglades Fire Control District,
to be used in connection with low dikes extending both east and
west at these locations for spreading water over the unused land
to prevent or reduce fires in the peat. The logs have been
removed and the dams abandoned.
The embankment of State Roads 25 and 84 along the west

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

and south bank of North New River Canal from South Bay to
Fort Lauderdale gives protection from canal overflow to all lands
on that side, except as permitted or induced through controlled
openings. Along the east and north side of the canal from
the county line to the control structure at Davie is a continuous
levee, through which are the controlled openings at Twenty-Six-
Mile Bend (mentioned above) and 1 without control at Holloway
Canal on range line 40/41. The cultivated lands on the east
side of the upper reach are protected from canal overflow by
dikes built by individual farm owners.
Bolles Canal crosses North New River Canal at Okeelanta, 6
miles south of the lake, and brings water from both east and
west. South Branch of New River connects South New River
Canal with North New River Canal below the control structure
in the latter at Davie. The cultivated lands along the upper
reaches of North New River Canal are both drained and irrigated
by pumping into and out of the canal, as are the cultivated lands
on the north side of the canal at the coastal ridge. The farms
south of the lower reaches of this canal pump from it for irriga-
tion but obtain drainage southward by gravity into South New
River Canal.
In periods of considerable rainfall when Lake Okeechobee is at
low stage, runoff pumped from the tributary lands and flow from
Bolles Canal fill the upper reaches of North New River Canal so
full that there is flow toward the lake as well as southward
toward the ocean. In the 7-year period 1940 to 1946 there was
such northward flow at South Bay for 4 percent of the time,
ranging from none to 46 days per year. Whether part of this
passes down Hillsboro Canal instead of into the lake depends upon
the stage of the former. (See p. 89.)
Miami Canal.-This westernmost of the large canals for drain-
ing the Everglades extends southward from Lake Harbor and
then southeastward to discharge into the canalized channel of
Miami River approximately 85 miles from the hurricane gate
and about 5 miles from Biscayne Bay. Except for the belt of
lands in sugarcane along Lake Okeechobee and some pasture
lands south of the Broward-Dade County line the area traversed
by this canal is undeveloped peat soil of which the greater part
is too shallow for economic agricultural development. Miami
Canal intersects Bolles Canal 71/2 miles from the hurricane gate
and connects with South New River Canal about 10 miles by
channel north of the Broward-Dade County line.

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades 93

Near Lake Okeechobee is a lock-and-spillway structure of
Everglades Drainage District, which is always open and needs
repair but could be made usable. In digging this canal rock was
excavated only between Miami and a half mile above the con-
nection with South New River Canal. For 25 miles or more
north of that point Miami Canal is only 2 to 4 feet deep. A rock
dam was built in the canal where rock excavation was discon-
tinued, but it has been breached and now offers comparatively
little obstruction to flow. Near the Broward-Dade County line
is an earth dam, which was built to prevent flooding of low lands
about 61/. miles below in the vicinity of Pennsuco but also helps
to hold water in the wild lands above. Through this dam are 5
large sluices having gates which were opened in dry seasons that
the fresh-water flow might check salt water advancing up the
canal toward the well field from which the city of Miami pumps
its water supply. A dam installed at 36th Street by the Miami
Water Department was an effective barrier against upstream
flow of the salty water until it failed in 1947. It was immediately
replaced with a temporary dam of steel sheet piling.
Practically all the drainage from lands in Palm Beach County
tributary to Miami Canal is discharged into Lake Okeechobee,
and there is relatively little flow from the lake into this canal.
The capacity of the canal is not sufficient to prevent overflow of
the adjoining lands. In Broward County surface water flows
southward or southwesterly across this canal, following old
natural drainage lines; the shallow channel is clogged with water
hyacinth and is of no service for drainage. Between State Road
25 and Hialeah the land is frequently inundated in wet seasons
and is excessively drained in dry seasons. The cultivated lands
bordering the upper section of Miami Canal are drained by pump-
ing into Lake Okeechobee or into the canal north of the lock at
Lake Harbor, and are irrigated by the same pumps and the
drainage ditches.
Cross Canal.-This connection between Hillsboro Canal and
West Palm Beach Canal is 13 miles long, and for most of its
length is bordered by farms devoted principally to growing truck.
Near the eastern end is a dam put in by Everglades Drainage
District, for the purpose of holding water in Cross Canal in order
to maintain a high water table in the lands along Cross and Hills-
boro Canals. The grade of Cross Canal is very slight, to the
east, and usually the water flows eastward, but occasionally the
flow is westward into Hillsboro Canal. The bordering cultivated

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

lands are drained and irrigated by pumping into and out of the
Bolles Canal.-This drain, of only moderate size, joins Hills-
boro Canal about 1 mile south of Cross Canal and extends west-
ward 20 miles to the Hendry County line. From its eastern
end to about 3 miles west of North New River Canal it passes
through an intensively developed area of truck farms.
Connection with Hillsboro Canal is through small, obstructed
culverts that pass only a small quantity of water. The connec-
tions with North New River and Miami Canals are open and
uncontrolled. Flow in Bolles Canal is mostly to North New River
Canal, from both east and west, but occasionally when the latter
is at high stage the flow is from it in either or both directions.
Overflow of the farms along both sides of Bolles Canal is pre-
vented by dikes built by the farm owners, who drain and irrigate
by pumping into and from the canal.
South New River Canal.-This canal at first connected Miami
Canal with South Branch of New River, but subsequently was
given direct connection with tidewater by construction of Dania
Cut-off. Nothing has been done, however, to obstruct flow
through this South Branch into South New River Canal from
North New River Canal, in which water usually is flowing at
higher elevation. The total length from Miami Canal to Intra-
coastal Waterway is approximately 281/2 miles. The eastern
portion drains an area considerably developed for citrus orchards
and dairying, but along the western portion the land is
unimproved range.
The connection between Miami Canal and South New River
Canal is open, but flow through the latter is practically prevented
by an earth-fill dam a half-mile east of Road 25. Through this
dam is a small culvert with gate, but the culvert is set too high
to drain the lands west of the dam. Four miles farther east, at
Fifteen-Mile Dike, is another dam which has a stop-log spillway
that is operated to control flow eastward. Near Davie is a
lock-and-spillway structure of Everglades Drainage District
which, though in usable condition, is seldom operated except in
periods of drought. At the head of Dania Cut-off is a generating
plant of Florida Power and Light Company, which takes cooling
water from South Branch of New River. Except during high
flow from the Everglades this water is returned to South Branch
about one-third mile from North New River Canal. In Dania

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades 95

Cut-off the company built a dam of steel lift panels, which now
is closed only when needed to hold fresh water to the west and
keep out salt water from the east.
Along South New River Canal west from Flamingo Road
(about 1 mile west of range line 40/41), openings in the spoil
banks permit runoff of surface water into the canal from both
north and south. On each side of the canal from Flamingo Road
to the lock at Davie is a highway on an embankment that serves
as a dike to keep out most surface water except as the drainage
ditches discharge into the canal through culverts under the roads.
Most of the culverts are provided with stop-log gates to restrict
drainage from the land in dry seasons.
Tamiami Canal.-Very little drainage is provided by Tamiami
Canal. West from within Coral Gables all across Dade County
the ground is practically level, and undeveloped except for a few
small farms scattered along the eastern portion of the canal.
Two miles east of range line 38/39 is an earth dam with a spill-
way over which there is a small flow eastward in wet seasons.
From this dam the flow is into Miami River and Biscayne Bay
without control. Both east and west of the dam occasional
lateral drains from both north and south discharge into the canal
without control. U. S. Highway 94 forms a dike along the south
side of the canal. West of the dam in Range 39 are many
trestles through which at times overflow from the canal escapes
Uncontrolled Canals of Everglades Drainage District.-Indian
Prairie Canal drains the northwest corner of the district into
Lake Okeechobee. It heads in the edge of a sawgrass marsh
that lies mostly in Highlands County. Its upper portion is
bordered by improved pasture land but most of its length lies
through unimproved range. In the canal are no artificial con-
trols but the channel is obstructed by sand tramped in by stock.
It overflows in wet seasons.
Cypress Creek Canal, about 15 miles long, flows directly east-
ward into the Intracoastal Waterway at Pompano. The area
drained is largely devoted to truck crops. Flow in the canal is
obstructed by sand bars and dense growths of water hyacinth,
and many farmers have built checks in the canal to prevent over-
drainage. The farms are privately diked and are both drained
and irrigated by pumping into and out of the canal.
Snake Creek Canal was dug to head in South New River Canal

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

at Flamingo Road and discharge into the upper end of Biscayne
Bay near Fulford. The channel now is closed by a dam 1 mile
from the connection with South New River Canal, and another
dam about 6 miles below diverts flow from the channel above into
canals constructed by local agencies, which empty into Biscayne
Bay and Miami Canal. The lands tributary in Everglades Drain-
age District are mostly used for pasture or grazing; the highest
value of those nearer the coast is for urban and suburban
Snapper Creek Canal heads in Tamiami Canal at the east line
of Range 39 and empties into Biscayne Bay about 5 miles south
of Coconut Grove. Occasional small farms border on the canal
above the coastal strip of residential development. The lower
end of the canal is narrow and choked with aquatic growth, and
apparently there is little flow through it.
Works of Sub-Drainage Districts and Comparable Enterprises.
-Table 5 (p. 82) shows that 13 of the subdistricts have installed
drainage pumping plants having a total rated capacity of
2,486,000 gallons per minute. As has been stated, many of these
plants also pump irrigation water in dry seasons.
In practically all areas utilization of the land for crops requires,
in addition to the district works, farm drains and pumping plants
that must be provided by the landowners at private expense.
There are no figures as to the extent of private drainage develop-
ment. Some of the land ownerships outside the subdistricts are
larger than many of those districts, and a few such have installed
pumping plants of 200,000 gallons per minute or greater capacity.
North, west, and south of Miami is a net-work of drainage
canals constructed by subdistricts or private developments, tribu-
tary to Biscayne Bay or to Miami and Tamiami Canals. Very
little of the land is farmed and the canals are of benefit to little
more than the urban sections near the Bay.
In the Homestead-Florida City area are a number of so-called
"ocean level" drainage canals which discharge into lower Bis-
cayne Bay. These aid in removing surface water but draw much
water from the oolite rock into which they cut, and in times
of low ground water they admit ocean water as far as Florida
City. In the lower portions, crops sometimes are injured by high
ground water. Much of the land between the ridge and the ocean
is too saline for crops. The intrusion of salt into the ground
water in eastern Dade County is threatening the permanent

Soils, Geology, and Water Control in the Everglades 97

usability of irrigation-water supplies for agricultural areas and
of municipal water supplies for urban areas.
Dade County Water Conservation District is constructing
water-control works in the major drainage canals. The struc-
tures are designed to check landward flow of salt water and to
hold fresh water in and on the higher lands that it may be used
for irrigation, for preserving wildlife and recreational values, for
mitigating soil destruction by fires and natural oxidation, and for
augmenting ground-water supplies.

Water Control Recommendations
The object of water control for the Everglades Region is to
conserve the organic soils by minimizing subsidence and reduc-
ing fire hazards; and at the same time to provide for all agricul-
tural soils adequate drainage during wet periods and water for
irrigation during dry periods.
Records show that uncontrolled drainage during the past 30
years has lowered the surface of the organic soils suitable for
agriculture by 3 to 6 feet. This lowering of the land surface has
substantially reduced the capacity of the drainage canals and has
materially increased the difficulty of obtaining gravity outlet
For lands in cultivation, removal of excess water is necessary
in seasons of heavy rainfall and artificial supply is necessary in
dry periods. Unused organic soils suitable for cropping should
be kept saturated in order to avoid subsidence and loss by oxida-
tion and fires. For most of the lands suitable only for grazing
cattle, drainage and irrigation are not economically feasible under
usual conditions, and water-control plans for any of these should
consider carefully what injury proposed works might cause to
other lands of equal or greater value. Some lands not suitable
for either crops or cattle might be made to serve agriculture by
storing water for irrigation, or by temporarily holding runoff
to relieve overtaxed drainage canals in periods of heavy rainfall.
The map of generalized land conditions shows the agricultural
lands to comprise, in general, the deeper organic soils of the saw-
grass plains in Palm Beach County and the marl and sandy soils
of the coastal rim. The organic soils classified as agricultural
amount to about 700,000 acres, of which probably a fourth was
used for crops in 1946. A considerable acreage of this is drained

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

by pumping directly into Lake Okeechobee, the rest by pumping
into the drainage canals. In wet seasons the canals are inaquate
for removing this water and the flow they receive from unused
lands. To drain these lands it will be necessary to increase
the capacity of these canals, provide additional canals, or delay
runoff from part of the area now tributary. It would be beneficial
to the undeveloped agricultural land to hold water upon it until
it is wanted for cropping.
On most of the extensive area of non-agricultural peat soils,
comprising the ridge-and-slough lands and the hammock phase
of the sawgrass plains (Fig. 2), storage or retention of water
would promote increase in wildlife and in recreational use. A
small fraction of the hammock-sawgrass area is being used for
dry-season grazing, otherwise these lands are producing nothing
of agricultural value. Water held upon the central and northern
portions of the non-agricultural peat lands would be available for
irrigation on and near the coastal rim and for recharging the
well fields from which Miami and Fort Lauderdale obtain their
municipal supplies (30).

Surface Runoff
Measured Runoff.-Continuous records of water stage and dis-
charge have been collected by U. S. Geological Survey since late
in 1939, near both the lake and the coastal ends of West Palm
Beach, Hillsboro, North New River, and Miami Canals; near the
coastal ends of Boynton, Cypress Creek, South New River, and
Tamiami Canals; and at the openings through U. S. Highway 94
west of Miami where water flows southward. The records from
the upper ends of the 4 major canals measure both the flow from
the Everglades into the lake and that from the lake into the
Everglades. The total net runoff from the area during the 5
years for which records have been compiled, and the correspond-
ing rainfall, are shown by months in Table 6.
The measurements show that for 1940 to 1944 the annual run-
off from approximately 3,900 square miles in that portion of
Everglades Drainage District south of the Okeechobee-St. Lucie
divide, west of the Atlantic coastal ridge, and north of Tamiami
Canal has averaged 2,130,000 acre-feet, equivalent to 10.23 inches
depth and 19.6 percent of the rainfall. The range in annual run-
off for the 5 years has been, in amount from 3,814,000 to 848,500
acre-feet, in depth from 18.3 to 4.1 inches, and in percentage of
rainfall from 30.1 to 9.6; the maximum figures relate to 1941.

(Data from U. S. Geological Survey)

1940 1
Runoff I Rainfall I Runoff








[Rainfall Runoff









Rainfall Runoff I Rainfall
Inches Inches Inches

2.68 0.13 1.08
2.32 .07 .69
3.89 .03 .97
5.19 .03 2.78
5.79 .11 6.04
13.56 .17 6.06
3.15 .58 8.55
4.73 .61 7.17
5.66 1.12 7.54
1.65 1.06 4.86
.86 .53 2.74
2.17 .49 .41

51.65 4.93 48.89
28.75 3.54 34.18

1944 Mean
Runoff Rainfall Runoff Rainfall
Inches Inches Inches Inches

0.28 0.86 0.64 2.50
.05 .05 .55 2.10
.04 2.24 .46 3.10
.03 1.70 .67 3.48
.08 5.74 .35 4.58
.11 3.79 1.01 8.22
.13 8.31 1.20 7.50
.68 7.92 1.08 6.45
.59 4.51 1.58 7.32
1.23 6.95 1.41 3.99
.64 .23 .78 1.42
.22 .34 .50 1.66

4.08 42.64 10.23 52.32
2.74 31.48 6.28 33.48


Jan ......
Feb. ......
Mar. ......
April ....
May ......
June ......
July ......
Aug. ......
Sept ....
Oct ......
Nov. ......
Dec. ......

Annual ..






Florida Agricultural Experiment Station


Rainfall r S
Inches ca o oS

Moore Haven, 1918-1946 (29 years)

2-3 1 3 6 7 13 10 7 13 8 4 1 73
3-4 1 1 1 1 2 2 5 2 2 1 18
4-5 2 1 1 1 5
5-6 1 1
8-9 1 1

Total 1 1 4 7 9 18 13 12 16 11 5 1 98
Okeechobee, 1918-1946 (29 years)

2-3 2 5 6 7 13 6 6 11 7 1 2 66
3-4 3 2 2 1 1 3 1 13
4-5 1 1 2 1 5
5-6 1 1
6-7 1 1

Total 0 2 6 9 9 16 7 7 16 10 2 2 86
Canal Point (U. S. Cane Breeding Statiori), 1923-1946 (24 years)

2-3 4 3 2 7 5 7 10 9 16 3 1 67
3-4 1 4 1 1 7
4-5 1 2 1 2 2 1 9
5-6 1 1 1 1 4
6-7 2 2
21-22 1 1

Total 4 3 3 8 6 14 13 11 19 6 3 0 90
Belle Glade (Everglades Experiment Station), 1925-1946 (22 years)

2-3 2 1 5 6 4 13 9 7 7 4 2 1 61
3-4 1 1 5 2 2 2 1 3 1 18
4-5 2 1 4 7
6-7 2 1 3
8-12 1 1 2

Total 2 1 8 8 4 20 11 9 14 5 7 2 91
Shawano, 1929-1946 (18 years)

2-3 1 1 4 2 6 8 5 8 8 6 3 2 54
3-4 1 1 1 3 1 3 2 3 1 16
4-5 1 1 1 1 1 5
7-8 2 1 3

Total 2 1 6 3 10 12 9 110 12 7 4 2 178

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