Ocean to Everglades

A project by Ocean Conservancy with financial support from VoLo Foundation

Lake Okeechobee The Story of Water

It all starts with a single drop of water.

© Paul Marcellini © Paul Marcellini

It was a river of grass; a natural wonder unlike any other.

© Paul Marcellini © Paul Marcellini

The clear, filtered fresh waters of the Everglades eventually fed into Biscayne Bay, Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

These waters nurtured coastal, estuary and marine environments bursting with wildlife.

But all of that changed.

People decided to drain and reengineer South Florida’s wetlands and waterways for land development, agriculture, and water supply.

© Planet Labs, Inc. © Planet Labs, Inc.

Nitrogen and phosphorus pollution feeds dangerous algae blooms in Lake Okeechobee.

The polluted, algae-infested water is then sent straight to the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, devastating wildlife and people in the estuaries and coasts.

© Mac Stone © Mac Stone

Meanwhile, not nearly enough clean water is sent south to feed the Everglades, Florida Bay, Biscayne Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Starved for clean, fresh water, these environments are in serious jeopardy.

Luckily, people are fighting back, and help is on the way…

© National Park Service © National Park Service

People are working to break down barriers that stop the flow of water south. Highway 41, known as the Tamiami Trail, has blocked southward flows of water since the 1920s. But today it’s been elevated to free water flows into Everglades National Park.

© JC Ruiz © JC Ruiz

The multi-billion dollar Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan is building water storage reservoirs, implementing wetland restoration projects and working to improve water quality.

And scientists are trying to invent new solutions for the water quality crisis in Lake Okeechobee and other waterways.

The Barley Water Prize, a multi-million dollar innovation competition spearheaded by Everglades Foundation, is bringing the world’s top scientists together to develop groundbreaking, cost-effective technologies to clean polluted fresh water.

© Paul Marcellini © Paul Marcellini

But so much more needs to be done. We can’t have healthy estuaries, bays and beaches without a healthy Everglades.

If we want to put an end to the harmful algae that pollutes our waterways, and if we want places like Florida Bay and Biscayne Bay to be clean and beautiful, we must clean the water, fix the plumbing of the Everglades and send the water south.

It can be done. It must be done.

And we must work together to act today.

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