Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program
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Underscoring the state's commitment to Greater Everglades ecosystem restoration, the Florida Legislature in 2007 expanded the Lake Okeechobee Protection Act to strengthen protection for the Northern Everglades. This is being achieved by restoring and preserving the Lake Okeechobee watershed and the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries. The legislation required watershed plans for Lake Okeechobee (including Fisheating Creek), the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers and their estuaries. Features of the Northern Everglades & Estuaries Protection Program:

Everglades Ecosystem Map
  • Recognizes that the Lake Okeechobee, Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie watersheds are critical water resources of the State

  • Builds upon and consolidates numerous restoration activities into a comprehensive approach

  • Expands use of the Save Our Everglades Trust Fund to include Northern Everglades restoration and extends it through 2020

Initial phases of these plans are now being implemented, as is planning for feasibility studies of sub-basins within each plan. Details of each of these plans, developed in 2007 and 2008 in partnership with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, as well as with stakeholders and members of the public, are listed below.

Overview Documents

 
Lake Okeechobee Watershed Construction Project Phase II Technical Plan

The Lake Okeechobee Watershed Construction Project Phase II Technical Plan was developed in 2008. It builds upon and dovetails with other ongoing restoration activities and successfully consolidates many previous Lake Okeechobee restoration efforts into a broader, Northern Everglades-focused approach.

photo of fishermen
ABOUT THE PLAN
  • The coordinating agencies, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the District, evaluated various alternatives using best available technology and scientific information. Incorporating extensive input from the public, they identified the best science-based and technologically feasible options for improving lake and estuary health.

  • The technical plan identifies construction projects as well as agricultural and urban practices needed to achieve water quality targets for the lake. It includes other types of projects for increasing water storage north of Lake Okeechobee to achieve healthier lake levels and also reduce harmful discharges to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries.

  • The plan includes short-term measures as well as longer-term measures, which will be put into operation after 2010. THis represents the best blueprint for achieving water quality standards while better managing lake levels.

Components of the multi-phase plan include

Lake Okeechobee Protection Program


FISHEATING CREEK SUB-WATERSHED FEASIBILITY REPORT

The Lake Okeechobee Watershed Construction Project Phase II Technical Plan calls for an iterative, adaptive and phased implementation process. It recommends that feasibility studies be conducted at the sub-watershed level to further define the best mix of surface storage and water quality improvement features that are most suitable in a given sub-watershed. The studies should also identify locations for siting these features and develop preliminary engineering design and cost estimates for the identified features.

Following these guidelines, the South Florida Water Management District began the development of the Fisheating Creek Sub-watershed Feasibility Report in 2008. A Working Team was established to provide technical support for Feasibility Report development.

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Lake Okeechobee Watershed Phase II Plan Documents

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Caloosahatchee River Watershed Protection Plan

The Caloosahatchee Watershed Protection Plan is being coordinated with the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Construction Project Phase II Technical Plan and the St. Lucie River Watershed Protection Plan.

This plan will address pollutant load reductions based on adopted total maximum daily loads (TMDLs). It will also include a goal for salinity levels and freshwater inflow targets for the Caloosahatchee Estuary.

photo of Caloosahatchee River
The plan includes the following elements:
  • Caloosahatchee River Watershed Construction Project
    Planning, design and construction of the initial phase to improve hydrology, water quality and aquatic habitats within the watershed.

  • Caloosahatchee River Watershed Pollutant Control Program
    A multi-faceted approach to reducing pollutant loads by improving management of pollutant sources within the watershed. This will be achieved by implementing regulations and best management practices (BMPs); developing and implementing improved BMPs; improving and restoring hydrologic function of natural and managed systems; and using alternative technologies to reduce pollutants.

  • Caloosahatchee River Watershed Research and Water Quality Monitoring Program
    Builds upon the South Florida Water Management District's existing research and water quality efforts and is sufficient to carry out, comply with or assess these new projects, plans and programs.

Related Links

Caloosahatchee River Watershed Protection Plan Documents

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St. Lucie River Watershed Protection Plan

The St. Lucie Watershed Protection Plan is being coordinated with the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Construction Project Phase II Technical Plan and the Caloosahatchee River Watershed Protection Plan.

This plan will address pollutant load reductions based on adopted total maximum daily loads (TMDLs). It will also include a goal for salinity levels and freshwater inflow targets for the St. Lucie Estuary.

photo of St. Lucie River
The St. Lucie Watershed Protection Plan includes the following elements:
  • St. Lucie River Watershed Construction Project
    Planning, design and construction of the initial phase to improve hydrology, water quality and aquatic habitats within the watershed.

  • St. Lucie River Watershed Pollutant Control Program
    A multi-faceted approach to reducing pollutant loads by improving management of pollutant sources within the watershed. This will be achieved by implementing regulations and best management practices (BMPs); developing and implementing improved BMPs; improving and restoring the hydrologic function of natural and managed systems; and using alternative technologies for pollutant reduction.

  • St. Lucie River Watershed Research and Water Quality Monitoring Program
    Builds upon the South Florida Water Management District's existing research and water quality efforts and is sufficient to carry out, comply with or assess these new projects, plans and programs.

Related Links

St. Lucie Watershed Protection Plan Documents

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Research and Water Quality Monitoring (R&WQM)

The Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program Watershed Protection Plans for the St. Lucie and the Caloosahatchee Estuaries are composed of three parts: a Construction Project, a Pollutant Control Program and a Research and Water Quality Monitoring Program (RWQMP).

The Water Quality Monitoring Program will assess the water volumes and timing from the watersheds of Lake Okeechobee, Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers and their relative contributions to the timing and volume of water delivered to the estuaries.

photo of pelicans and mangroves
Research and Water Quality Monitoring Process

Related Links

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Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan

A number of restoration initiatives that are part of the state-federal partnership for restoring the Everglades include projects that also support the overall goals of the Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program, including the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP, a state-federal partnership), the Long-Term Plan for Achieving Water Quality Goals (Everglades Forever Act) and a variety of other restoration programs and projects.

The goals and objectives of CERP and the Northern Everglades Initiative significantly overlap, hence, the efforts complement and support one another. Within the Lake Okeechobee Watershed, CERP supports implementation of the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Project and construction of several Aquifer Storage and Recovery wells. Further, CERP goals include implementation of several projects in watersheds adjacent to the Lake Okeechobee Watershed, such as the C-43 Reservoir project, the C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area Project, the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir Project and ASR wells.

photo of Kissimmee River
CERP Projects

State of Florida Projects

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