The Beautiful Labels - History of The Everglades Water Flow

Back to Alkalinity Page

Pre-Drainage Water Flow

Current Everglades Water Flow

Everglades Quick Facts:
  • One out of every three Floridians (8 million people) rely on the Everglades for their water supply.
  • The Everglades comprise the largest subtropical wet-land ecosystem in North America.
  • The Everglades is a World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve.
  • While it is often described as a swamp or forested wet-land, the Everglades is actually a very slow-moving river.
  • Once spread out over 8 million acres, the Everglades ecosystem reaches from the Kissimmee River to Lake Okeechobee, where waters from the lake slowly move south toward Florida Bay.
  • Native Americans living in and around the river called it Pahayokee (pah-HIGH-oh-geh), the “grassy waters.”
  • Birds were so plentiful in the Everglades that it was said they “darkened the sky” when they took flight.
  • America’s Everglades is home to 73 threatened or endangered species.
  • Just months after Florida become a state in 1845, the legislature took the first steps that would lead to draining the Everglades.
  • Periphyton, the mossy golden-brown substance that is found floating in bodies of water throughout the Everglades, is the dominant life form in the River of Grass ecosystem.
  • The Everglades is the only place in the world where the American Alligator and the American Crocodile co-exist in the wild.
  • Mosquitoes play a vitally important link in the Everglades food chain. The larvae of grown mosquitoes provide food for a variety of native fish that are critical to the diet of wading birds.
  • The ubiquitous grassy plants known as sawgrass (a sedge), have serrated, razor-edged blades of grass that are so sharp, they have been known to cut through clothing.


Briefly :The Historical Everglades

The historical Everglades stretched from Orlando to the Florida Keys. Water from the Kissimmee River flowed south into shallow Lake Okeechobee. During the wet season, Lake Okeechobee overflowed, forming the slow-moving river of grass that extends to Florida Bay

The Everglades Today

Over 50 % of the historical Everglades has been lost in the last century as a result of being drained and replaced with urban areas and farms. Lake Okeechobee is now connected to the estuaries by means of the Caloosahatchee and St Lucie Rivers. As a result, the rivers’ fragile estuarine ecosystems receive highly damaging water from the Lake. The remaining Everglades protection area, a compartmentalized ecosystem receiving polluted runoff from the farming areas south of Lake Okeechobee, is threatened; shifts in the natural flora and fauna have been observed.

Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP)

The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan provides guidelines to restore the water resources of central and southern Florida. The plan includes more than 60 major components that aim to restore the ecosystem, while providing flood protection and ensuring water supplies.

Restoration Priorities


  • Restoration of the greater Everglades ecosystem is essential to securing a clean water supply.
  • The Kissimmee River restoration project will restore sections of the river and its floodplain that were previously drained and channelized, providing great benefits to wildlife.
  • Building additional Stormwater Treatment Areas and Flow Equalization Basins in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) is essential to restoring the central Everglades.
  • The Picayune strand restoration project will re-establish wildlife corridors, while restoring the water quality and quantity.
  • Tamiami Bridge will restore the natural water flow and cycle to the Everglades, improving ecosystem conditions.
  • The C-111 spreader canal will allow for the right quantity of water and timing of its distribution to benefit Everglades National Park and Florida Bay.