Video: “Follow the Water” Gets to the Heart of Everglades Restoration

When most people think of the Everglades, they picture the sawgrass wetlands and mangroves at the southern tip of Florida. What they don’t realize is that the health of this incredible ecosystem is dependent upon events far to the north.

Historically, the Everglades received a steady supply of fresh water from a massive watershed that begins near Orlando, but over the past century—in the name of flood control and agriculture—man has interrupted that flow, most notably at Lake Okeechobee. As a result, the amount of fresh water that reaches Florida Bay is less than half of what it should be. The main goal of Everglades restoration is to send more fresh water south, but this is not as simple as it may sound.

In this incredible video from Praech Productions, follow Orvis president Simon and and his cousin Hannah Perkins—part of the Women’s Product Development team at Orvis—as they travel the length of the Everglades watershed, talking to scientists, conservationists, and fishing guides to see first-hand the work being done and to explore what the future may hold.

Click here to learn much more about the places and people in the video
in our “Follow the Water” online experience.

3 thoughts on “Video: “Follow the Water” Gets to the Heart of Everglades Restoration”

  1. The furthest upstream point in the watershed that I’m aware of is a small pond in the Pine Hills suburban area west of Orlando; water from that area, combined with that of many drainage ditches to its south, eventually becomes Shingle Creek. Shingle Creek itself is channelized in a portion of its upper reaches and an Orlando sewage treatment plant dumped treated grey water full of suspended solids loaded with nitrogen into it for decades, as did Kissimmee further south, before it flows into the Kissimmee chain of lakes. By the time it enters the chain the water is already carrying nutrients and chemicals from tens of thousands of acre of urban and suburban drainage and more is added from around the lakes. The Kissimmee River flowing out of the Kissimmee chain passes through mile after mile of cattle pasture and its channelized course is deluged with the nitrogen and phosphate produced by cattle production. The 22 miles of river, out of 100, that’s been restored helps but doesn’t cure the ills from upstream. Then you have the farms and development around Lake Okeechobee adding more nutrients and chemicals to the mix. Water quality, not just volume, matters; by the time the water exits Okeechobee it is carrying a deadly mix that promotes algae growth which causes fish kills and sickens humans. Increased red tide in the southern Gulf has been linked as well. Engineering solutions to help treat the effects of other engineering solutions is probably all we can hope for, but what’s really needed is the realization that some places are not suitable for development and the decommissioning of the previous engineering solutions which caused the problem to begin with. Human focus on the false god, Growth, over the idea of sustainability is at the root and I see no end to that in sight.

  2. This has been a problem for a long time now, and apparently one that no one with the power to solve is willing to solve. Everyone too busy fighting over money and land rights and water rights and clout and power and politics to put it all aside and do the right thing. We can spend millions studying why monkeys throw their own poo, but we can’t figure this out? I know, I know… we could… but we’d have to get Big Sugar and the other players out of the way first, maybe including the aforementioned “we” of the eternal “we can spend” cult. It’s a sad situation that I wish more people knew about. Thanks Orvis for highlighting it.

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