Focusing on Water Quality
No other government in the world has invested as much time or
money in improving the quality of one single waterbody or
natural system, spending an unprecedented $1.8 billion for
water quality improvements alone.
Since 1994, Florida has built 52,000 acres of stormwater
treatment areas to naturally filter phosphorus from the
water. During the last decade, these man-made wetlands,
along with improved farming practices, prevented
more than 3,500 tons of phosphorus from entering the
Everglades. Currently another 11,500 acres of stormwater
treatment areas are being constructed.
In 2003, Florida established a stringent, science-based
water quality criterion of 10 ppb for phosphorus to protect
the sensitive balance of the ecosystem. After strengthening
the measurement methodology used in the Loxahatchee to be
more protective than the Consent Decree requires, the rule
was approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Upheld by state court, no other water quality standard in
Florida’s history has ever been so thoroughly researched.
Authorized by Section 528 of
the 1996 Water Resources Development Act, the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers (USACE) is charged with developing
specific water quality related projects that are essential
to the restoration of the Florida Everglades. These projects
The State of Florida is charged with securing the land for
all of these projects.
The 1991 federal Settlement Agreement was written as a road
map for reversing the decline of the ecosystem in Everglades
National Park and the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge from
In 2005, the Technical Oversight Committee, a panel of state
and federal scientists, established by the Settlement Agreement
to provide technical advice on the cleanup, acknowledged that
Florida has consistently achieved the interim and long-term
water quality goals required by the 1991 Settlement Agreement
ahead of the December 31, 2006 effective date for the long-term
more than a decade (since February 1999), phosphorus
continued a significant downward trend within the interior
marsh of the
Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge,
based on 14
o Since September 2004, Everglades water quality has
generally met state criteria, with a few excursions limited
to specific EPA areas. In Water Year 2009, the annual
geometric mean inflow total phosphorous concentration in
Everglades Nartional Park decreased from 11.2 to 9.3 parts
per billion (ppb).
View Water Quality Q & A
Lake Okeechobee Water Quality
Underscoring the state’s commitment to Greater Everglades
Ecosystem restoration, the Florida Legislature in 2007 expanded
the Lake Okeechobee Protection Act to include protection and
restoration of the Lake Okeechobee watershed and the
Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries.
Implementation of this
program will improve the quality, quantity, timing and
distribution of water to the natural system and re-establish
salinity regimes suitable for maintaining healthy, naturally
diverse and well-balanced estuarine ecosystems. The health
of the Northern Everglades will be enhanced by improving
land management to improve water quality and by completing
water storage projects to better connect, manage and
distribute water to the natural system.