DRAINING THE SWAMP
- Since federal and state officials began draining the Everglades, more than half of the vast river of grass has been developed. Much of the rest has been polluted or distressed.
- The Everglades, which once encompassed 3 million acres, are now crisscrossed by 2,100 miles of canals and 2,000 miles of levees and berms.
- As a result, the Everglades has lost more than half of the water that historically flowed from Lake Okeechobee south to Florida Bay.
HARMING AN ECOSYSTEM
- Florida has listed 113 species of plants as endangered and 47 as threatened in Everglades National Park –- nearly one in four of the preserve’s native plants.
- Populations of wading birds, such as white ibis and wood storks, have plummeted by an estimated 90 percent.
- Some 70 species in the region are considered threatened or endangered, including manatees, panthers, and crocodiles.
SLOW, EXPENSIVE RESTORATION EFFORTS
- The federal and state governments are spending more than $16 billion to restore much of the historic flow of water to the Everglades.
- It’s considered the world’s most expensive ecological restoration project. Its costs have more than doubled since it began in 2000.
- But only six of the planned 68 projects are under construction. At the current pace, it may taken another 100 years to complete the restoration.
- The goal is to restore about 1.7 billion gallons of water a day that is now diverted to the ocean.
- When the project is complete, Everglades National Park should receive nearly all the water it did before the land was drained.
IMPACT OF RISING SEAS
- As sea levels rise, South Florida is among the world’s most vulnerable places.
- Much of the region is less than 6 feet above sea level; seas are expected to rise by about 7 feet by the end of the century, depending on whether carbon emissions are cut.
- Many of the region’s eight million people are likely to experience severe flooding. Drinking water, power and sewer systems, and billions of dollars in real estate are threatened.
- As more saltwater intrudes into the freshwater, the Everglades will be changed irrevocably.
- Here’s what the latest climate models show is likely to happen to landmarks such as President Donald Trump’s estate, Mar-a-Lago, on Palm Beach in Florida:
Sources: Everglades National Park, Everglades Foundation, South Florida Water Management District, Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Southeast Florida Regional Compact, National Academy of Sciences, Climate Central, The Boston Globe, Miami Herald, The Everglades Handbook, The Swamp, The Everglades: River of Grass, Sea Level Rise in Florida, Gladesmen: Gator Hunters, Moonshiners, and Skiffers.