Historically, The Everglades spanned from the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes, down to Lake Okeechobee, through the River of Grass, down to Florida Bay and the iconic Florida Keys. In the early 1900s, development in Florida began to boom, and in an effort to support the growing population and spur the growth of the agricultural community, the original flow was cut off, and the water originally flowing south from Lake Okeechobee was redirected East and West into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries.
Today, this system is still in place, and nutrient pollution continues to make its way into the lake. When Lake Okeechobee rises during the wet season, the levees are opened and the polluted water is flushed in to the estuaries, tainting Florida’s freshwater supply and making its way into our coastal communities, while leaving the Everglades starved for freshwater.
During the summer months, the hot waters and high levels of sunlight stimulate the phosphorus and it does what it is meant to do – it ignites growth. This growth, however, comes in the form of toxic algal blooms.