The alarming Oct. 3 article Dying seagrass and ‘yellow fog’ signal trouble for Florida Bay detailed deteriorating conditions in the bay not seen since the early 1990s. During that time, a lack of freshwater flow through the Everglades south to the brackish bay triggered a massive seagrass die-off and algae bloom that persisted for years.
Now the summer drought and record high temperatures, combined with lack of restored freshwater from the Everglades, have created a familiar but potentially worse situation. Our science staff reports historically high salinity levels and we are alarmed that we could be nearing another catastrophic algae bloom if conditions continue to decline.
Sadly, there is no short-term solution.
In order to protect Florida Bay, we must jump-start stalled Everglades restoration projects designed to store, treat and send clean freshwater south unimpeded through the central Everglades and into Florida Bay. Priority should be given to ensuring that projects already constructed like the C-111 spreader canal are operated to increase flow to the bay.
We must advance with the Central Everglades Planning Project and begin construction on the next 2.5 miles of bridge along Tamiami Trail to remove obstructions to getting freshwater where it is most needed.
Florida Bay is a world-class fishing destination that creates thousands of jobs and generates $700 million a year for South Florida. . The science and planning are complete, but dedicated funding and political will are needed to finish the job of restoring America’s Everglades and Florida Bay.
America’s Everglades suffers from a threat of adverse water quality and a lack of water quantity. The crisis developing in Florida Bay should rally all to come together and protect an ecological and economic jewel.
Eric Eikenberg, CEO, Everglades Foundation,