Dangerously High Everglades Water Levels Threatening Fragile Wildlife, Ecosystem; Broward League of Cities Notes Action Needed by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Aug 13, 2013

The Broward League of Cities advised on behalf of President Susan Starkey today, August 13, 2013, that record rainfall this spring and summer has led to the highest water levels ever recorded for this time of year in the Everglades water conservation areas, which are in southwest Palm Beach County, western Broward County and northwestern Miami-Dade County. According to the South Florida Water Management District, May 18 through Aug. 1 was the wettest start to the rainy season in 45 years.

The River of Grass is becoming Lake Everglades and that could have a devastating impact on the ‘Glades and its inhabitants. Sky-high water levels in the freshwater Everglades are poised to kill vast amounts of the fur-bearing animals that live there, destroy the tree islands that provide them with food and shelter and also affect wading birds and endangered species such as the Florida panther. Nearly 20 years ago, high water levels killed 80-90 percent of the white-tailed deer in the Everglades, along with raccoons, wild hogs, opossums, bobcats and rabbits.  The animals either drowned, succumbed to disease from being crowded onto the few bits of high ground that weren’t underwater or starved to death.  In 2008, there was an effort to lower extreme water levels in the conservation areas caused by Tropical Storm Fay by one foot in 30 days.  The plan was a success, as the submerged deer islands were once again dry, the wildlife survived and there was no flooding or water quality issues south of Tamiami Trail.

ISSUE: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is the lead agency on Everglades restoration, has been slow to act. They have two concerns: a possible delay in the Tamiami Trail road construction project and possible damage to the road by raising water levels too high in the L-29 and two, Impacting farmers and homeowners in western Miami-Dade County by deviating from regular water control plans.

SOLUTION: The solution is to let water flow south under Tamiami Trail. From there it would go into Everglades National Park and the C-111 Canal on into Florida Bay. The Corps needs to understand that the preservation of the Everglades and its wildlife is as important, if not more, than a road construction project and they need to quickly implement the water flow plan.

CALL TO ACTION: While the Broward League of Cities has not taken a position on this issue it is aware that some members and concerned citizens may want to communicate their thoughts to the appropriate officials.

Please call our Federal representatives and let them know your thoughts.

U.S. Senators:

The Honorable Bill Nelson Phone: 954.693.4851
The Honorable Marco Rubio Phone: 305.418.8553

U.S. House of Representatives:

The Honorable Alcee Hastings Phone: 954.733.2800
The Honorable Ted Deutch Phone: 561.470.5440
The Honorable Lois Frankel Phone: 561.998.9045
The Honorable Debbie Wasserman Schultz Phone: 954.437.3936
The Honorable Frederica Wilson Phone: 305.690.5905
The Honorable Mario Diaz-Balart Phone: 305.470.8555
US Army Corps of Engineers: Colonel Alan Dodd, District Commander, Phone: 904.232.2389
Jacksonville Division