Dangerous Water Levels in the Everglades

First, there was not enough water. Now, there’s too much. This past year, Florida’s weather has certainly been erratic. During the winter, Florida, including the Everglades, was experiencing a significant drought. Come summer, the rain is beating down hard, so hard that certain spots of the Everglades are flooded and waterlogged. Certain species of birds and animals are leaving the area due to the excess water, including deer and wading birds.

Back in July, the water levels in the area were around 2 feet above normal. In some areas of the Everglades, there has been more than 20 inches of rain. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conversation, the flooding is as bad as its ever bee this early in the summer, rainy season. The animals, who usually seek dry higher areas in the Everglades, are seeking other places, because everything is under water.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service believes that animals are in crisis and some will even die. One bird that could potentially become extinct from this year’s rainfall is the Cape Sable seaside sparrow. Right now, there is around 3,000 sparrows in the Everglades, but if there population drops to below 300, it is believed they will go extinct.

Other threatened and affected species include: wood storks, indigo snakes, deer, racoons, snail kites.

In June, the South Florida Water Management District was allowed to back pump clean water into Lake Okeechobee to reduce the overflow in different conservation areas. This will lower the water one quarter inch per week. Because this is an emergency, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection allowed for this change in the water-management schedule.

These high-water levels don’t just affect the birds and animals, but the plant life and entire environment, as well. It is essential to move the water out of the Everglades for the area to be able to thrive and survive after this year’s rainy season is done.

The Everglades is a very delicate ecosystem, and small shifts in water levels or weather can truly bring damage and catastrophe to the area.

If you would like to explore this majestic place, go for an airboat tour with Captain Mitch. He’s been zipping around the Everglades for decades. You’ll see so much plant and animal life on these airboat adventures. Click here to book a trip or call 800-368-0065.

Water Quality in the Everglades

evergladesLately, it seems like most news to come out about the Everglades isn’t too positive. Thankfully however, there was some good news to come out last month. Water quality is being restored in the Everglades. Over the past two decades, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) have had the goal of restoring water quality. Recent tests have shown that at least 90 percent of the Everglades now meets an “ultra clean” water quality when it comes to levels of phosphorus (10 parts per billion or less required by federal consent decree and under state law). Right now, 100 percent of the Everglades is below 8 parts per billion; 86 percent of the Everglades is at 8 parts per billion.

Progress IS being made in the Everglades. Before the Everglades Forever Act of 1994, the water in the Everglades area contained around 173 parts per billion of phosphorus. In the past five years, phosphorus levels in the water were around 20 parts per billion, and this was after they were filter through Stormwater Treatment Areas (STAs).

The few areas left are close to reaching very clean levels. Soon, the water quality of the entire ecosystem of the Everglades will be in compliance soon. The water restoration is part of Governor Rick Scott’s $880 million Restoration Strategies program.

Explore the Everglades on an Airboat

The Everglades is a remarkable, beautiful wetland and officials and community members are working hard at restoring so it doesn’t disappear. Since it’s a Park, there are many ways for visitors to explore the area. One of the best ways to take in all the Everglades has to offer is an airboat tour. Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours has been operating in the Everglades for more than 30 years. To book a tour with Captain Mitch, click here or call 800-368-0065.