It is hard to believe that school is back in session in the Florida Keys! The summer flashed before our eyes, but it was a busy summer for Florida Bay and restoring the flow of water south to the Everglades. This translated to tangible progress for our estuary. After decades of delay, we are buckled up and ready for the ride as we see infrastructure projects breaking ground, completed, and new operating plans developed to reflect greater water storage capacity.

If we have learned anything, it is that with funding, everything and anything is possible. We have seen commitment from state and federal partners to double-down on restoration over the past few years, and the results speak for themselves. This summer, we have seen huge progress in the worlds of Everglades infrastructure and operations.

Here is your summer in review for Florida Bay:


As you may have heard us say before, the summer of 2021 has been all about LOSOM, or, the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual. Quick refresher: we achieve more water moving south with a combination of infrastructure (like the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir) and operations. LOSOM dictates when, where, why, and how water is discharged from Lake Okeechobee. Florida Bay Forever participated in countless meetings with the Army Corps and South Florida Water Management District to support plan CC. While no plan was perfect for any stakeholder, CC provided the best baseline for equity and optimization to bring maximum flows south.

On Monday, August 9th, the United States Army Corps of Engineers announced their preferred alternative: CC! Florida Bay Forever was thrilled to hear the selection and looks forward to further engagement as the manual is developed.

Old Tamiami Trail Roadbed Removal Completion

Now, to the world of infrastructure (or, lack thereof). This past July, the South Florida Water Management District celebrated the completion of the removal of a portion of the old Tamiami Trail. Completion of this project signifies the removal of a literal barrier to millions of gallons of clean water moving south. The project was completed six months ahead of schedule and we love to see the progress!

Breaking Ground on Barriers to Flow

Florida Bay Forever was elated to attend the groundbreaking for a seepage wall in the 8.5 Square Mile Area in Miami-Dade County. The barrier to flows south in this case is the seepage of freshwater flows. The South Florida Water Management District is building an underground wall to keep the water we so desperately want to move south in the Everglades and headed toward Florida Bay. Momentum is building for a hydrated bay and restored Everglades, and this is a milestone worth celebrating!

Kissimmee River Restoration Completed

We spend so much time focused on Florida Bay, and as residents of the Florida Keys, it makes sense. However, Florida Bay does not exist in a vacuum. We are one part of a greater Everglades ecosystem, one that begins in the headwaters of Lake Okeechobee: the Kissimmee River. Historically, the river meandered with twists and turns into the lake, and served as a haven for wildlife that call the Everglades home. Then, the river was channelized and straightened, which disrupted the natural flow of water and all of the wildlife that once called the river home. Kissimmee River restoration was authorized by Congress in 1992 and this summer, it was finally completed. This is yet another historic milestone for the Everglades that will improve the greater ecosystem.

Federal Funding

Remember that Everglades restoration requires a cost-share between the state and federal government. The state of Florida has historically outspend the federal government 2-to-1 in restoration dollars, but we are seeing great commitment from federal partners for the FY2022 budget. Florida Bay Forever joined stakeholders across the state to ask the Biden administration for an ambitious $725 million for restoration in this year’s budget. The president currently has $350 million in his budget ($100 million more than last year). In addition, Florida Bay Forever echoed calls for $5 billion to be included in the American Jobs Plan for Everglades restoration. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has made clear that they can spend that money over five years in accordance with the IDS and create 60,000 jobs while restoring America’s Everglades.

Fertilizer Ordinance

At the June 18th Monroe County Board of County Commissioners meeting, the board unanimously voted to pass a strong fertilizer ordinance. Florida Bay Forever supported the effort and is thrilled that county commissioners are taking proactive steps to protect water quality and Florida Bay!

It has been a busy summer, and the state legislative session is right around the corner. It is a busy time for Florida Bay, but the stakes have never been higher. We will be there every step of the way as the voice of the Florida Keys for Florida Bay.