florida department of environmental protection in focus

South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force
Celebrates 20th Anniversary

The South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, commemorating both historic Everglades restoration accomplishments and continued progress. The Everglades Task Force is composed of 14 federal, tribal, state and local government representatives, who coordinate the numerous projects that benefit the ecosystem and provide for regional water needs.

Drew Bartlett, DEP deputy secretary for Ecosystem Restoration and South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force Vice Chair, presented an Everglades water-quality update and reflected upon the improvements made as a result of successful partnerships. One of the highlights of his update included nutrient reduction in water conservation areas, as depicted in the maps below. On the left, elevated phosphorus levels were detected from 1979-1983 as represented by the red dots. On the right, in recent years, phosphorus levels have seen a significant decline as represented by the green dots, thanks in part to phosphorus reduction mandates, construction of and refined operation of the stormwater treatment areas, and implementation of agricultural best management practices. Nutrient reduction is a key component to providing a clean water supply, wildlife habitats and recreational activities in South Florida.

Everglades Task Force Presentation

DEP Dedicated to Protecting Florida Everglades

Everglades Restoration Map

Click on image for full-screen version.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection plays a key role in the largest environmental restoration project in the world – restoring America’s Everglades. The Everglades ecosystem covers 18,000 square miles, stretching from Orlando through the Florida Keys. A healthy ecosystem is vital to a healthy economy, and Florida is committed to protecting the Everglades. 

Since 2011, 15 restoration projects have been completed in conjunction with department efforts, with 19 projects currently under construction. Planning for future restoration projects is underway as well, ensuring continued protection and restoration of one of our most vital environmental resources.

To ensure a recurring dedicated funding source for continued restoration progress, in 2016, Governor Scott signed Legacy Florida legislation that dedicates a significant amount of funding – around $200 million annually – for Everglades restoration.

Restoration goals include:

  • Improved water quality, water supply and wildlife habitat while maintaining flood protection;
  • Reduced excess freshwater releases to coastal estuaries; and
  • Improved water delivery to Biscayne and Florida bays.

DEP’s Office of Ecosystem Projects ensures that agency policies and responsibilities focus on a holistic approach to South Florida ecosystem restoration. DEP staff members participate in project creation and planning to ensure they meet regulatory requirements and restoration goals. Plan elements are complex and require a balanced approach to the protection of ecological resources with the often competing objectives of water supply and flood control. 

For additional information on DEP's Everglades restoration projects and programs, click here

Current Everglades Restoration Projects

Caloosahatchee River: C-43 West Basin Storage Reservoir

Construction of a 170,000 acre-foot above-ground storage reservoir, two pump stations and a 16-mile perimeter canal. 

Benefits: The reservoir will capture and store stormwater runoff and Lake Okeechobee regulatory releases, with the capacity to hold more than 55 billion gallons of water. The project will help maintain a desirable minimum flow of fresh water to the Caloosahatchee River and Estuary, which will improve water quality and the health of aquatic life. When both the C-43 West and East reservoirs are completed, an estimated 19,800 pounds of phosphorus each year will be prevented from reaching the estuary.

Schedule: Phase One, consisting of the western reservoir, two pump stations and the perimeter canal, is currently under construction and is scheduled to be completed in 2020. Construction of Phase Two will be completed in 2026.

For more information, click here.

Lake Hicpochee Hydrologic Enhancement Project

Construction of a 670-acre flow equalization basin and a 6,500-foot spreader canal.

Benefits: The project will capture water from the C-19 Canal, which discharges directly into the Caloosahatchee River (C-43 Canal), and hold the water in a shallow storage feature called a flow equalization basin (FEB) north of Lake Hicpochee. A spreader canal will distribute the stored water into the northwest area of the lake. Controlling water flow will help hydrate the historic lake bed and improve wetlands in Lake Hicpochee, which is bisected by the C-43 Canal. The FEB will store more than 417 million gallons of water, which will improve the quality, timing and volume of water releases to the spreader canal and the Caloosahatchee River.

Schedule: Initial phase of land acquisition and project design was completed in 2015. Construction is planned to be completed in 2017. Second phase is planned to begin in 2025. 

 For more information, click here

Since 2011, Everglades Restoration Projects have resulted in:

Everglades by the Numbers

Indian River Lagoon South C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area 

Construction of a 3,400-acre deep-storage water reservoir, 6,300-acre stormwater treatment area (STA) and pump station.  

Benefits: The pump station will deliver stormwater runoff from the C-44 Canal to the deep-storage reservoir. This will enable timed releases of water to the STA, a massive constructed wetland containing aquatic plants that remove excess nutrients before the water is released back to the canal. The project will help improve water quality in the St. Lucie River and Estuary, which is part of the larger Indian River Lagoon system.

Schedule: Work by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the storage reservoir is expected to be completed in 2020. The South Florida Water Management District expects to complete construction on the STA in 2017 and the pump station in 2018.

For more information, click here

Picayune Strand Restoration Project

Construction of three pump stations with spreader canals; plugging 48 miles of canals; removal of 250 miles of road.

Benefits: The project will re-establish surface water flows in the western Everglades, and it will provide and connect habitat for wildlife, including the Florida panther. Restored water flow will recharge groundwater and pass through the natural filtration processes of swamps, prairies, marshes and mangroves before gradually reaching downstream estuaries. Restoration will benefit adjacent public lands, including Fakahatchee Strand Preserve and Collier-Seminole state parks and Big Cypress National Preserve. 

Schedule: Construction of two pump stations is complete; the third pump station is scheduled for completion in 2017. Nine culverts have been installed under the Tamiami Trail to help restore overland flows in the Picayune Strand.

For more information, click here

Everglades Restoration Programs and Funding

Everglades Restoration Programs


Some Everglades restoration programs are implemented and funded wholly by the state of Florida, while others involve local, state and federal partners. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers partners with Florida on large-scale projects, and the South Florida Water Management District serves as local sponsor for most restoration efforts.

Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP)

Approved by Congress in 2000, CERP is a long-term 50-50 partnership with the federal government. It includes more than 60 projects that will take more than 30 years to complete. Funding provided through Fiscal Year 2026 totals $1.061 billion. The 2016-17 "Florida First" budget signed by Governor Scott provides $100 million for CERP projects. Projects include: 

  • Ten Mile Creek Water Preserve Area: Capture and treat stormwater runoff before it reaches St. Lucie River and Estuary. 
  • Broward County Water Preserve Area: Improve water quality; reduce seepage loss from Central Everglades; increase water supply; reduce saltwater intrusion.

Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Plan (NEEPP)

Created by the Florida Legislature in 2007, NEEPP promotes a comprehensive approach to protecting Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers and estuaries. Funding provided through Fiscal Year 2026 totals $711 millionThe 2016-17 "Florida First" budget provides $56.8 million for NEEPP projects. Projects include: 

  • Lake Hicpochee Hydrologic Enhancement: Restore historic lake bed and wetlands; improve quality of water entering Caloosahatchee River.
  • Lakeside Ranch STA: Remove phosphorus from stormwater runoff before it enters Lake Okeechobee. 

Governor's Restoration Strategies Plan

In 2013, Governor Scott signed legislation that provides $32 million annually in state funding for the $880 million long-term Restoration Strategies Plan. When fully implemented, Restoration Strategies will provide a consistent source of clean water for 8 million Floridians, while restoring habitat and ecology, and increasing recreational opportunities in the greater Everglades area. Funding provided through Fiscal Year 2026 totals $288 million. Projects include: 

  • Bolles Canal Expansion: Improve water flow east/west across Everglades Agricultural Area; increase flexibility for moving water into STAs.
  • STA-1 West Expansion: Provide increased treatment area and phosphorus reductions.

For additional information on Everglades funding, click here.