The South Florida Water Management District addresses pollution at the source, making recent media coverage of an appeals court decision on national water management wholly incomplete and misleading, with claims that water is moved "unchecked" to South Florida.
Siding with SFWMD, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies, an appeals court ruled there was no need for costly additional federal permits to continue operating a system that has guaranteed flood protection and drinking water to millions of Florida families for decades. Here are the facts:
• Water monitoring stations in Everglades National Park, the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge and the Water Conservation Areas show at least 90 percent of the Everglades now meets clean water quality standards for levels of phosphorus of 10 parts per billion or less.
• Water delivered to the Everglades continues getting cleaner because of considerable existing federal and state permits, all tools of the Clean Water Act.
• Florida's 1994 Everglades Forever Act mandates the effective use of a combination of water quality improvement tools, such as Stormwater Treatment Areas, to ensure water flowing to the Everglades Protection Area meets water quality standards. In addition, the Lake Okeechobee Protection Act requires operations of 35 structures around the lake be consistent with reducing nutrients, including restricting "backpumping" into the lake.
• The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has developed Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs) designed as blueprints to further improve water quality. BMAPs employ a combination of permits, agricultural best management practices and related tools to achieve their goals.
• Working together, these efforts have ensured water in Everglades National Park is cleaner than it has been in generations and meets water quality requirements. Today, water sent south to restore historic flows into Everglades National Park and Florida Bay is clean.