The Florida Chamber of Commerce continues to promote the importance of securing Florida’s water future by releasing the latest in a series of videos (see below) emphasizing the need for the state to follow science-based research solutions.
“When it comes to securing Florida’s future, there are few issues more important than water,” said Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Florida Chamber. “With five million more people expected to call Florida home by 2030, science-based data is key to meeting the challenges Florida faces.”
The latest video in the series, produced for the Chamber by Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Research Professor Dr. Brian Lapointe, focuses on the Kissimmee River. The river’s basin extends south from Orlando to Lake Okeechobee and encompasses thousands of square miles and is being threatened by drainage projects and growth.
“Drainage projects, along with other human activities, have altered the quantity and quality of water flowing south to Lake Okeechobee, the Everglades and the downstream estuaries,” said Lapointe. “This video series allows us to share information on the Kissimmee River restoration, as well as other strategies that are underway to protect these important water resources for future generations.”
When the river was allowed to flow in its natural state, the Kissimmeeonce meandered for 103 miles from Orlando to Lake Okeechobee. But, Congress authorized the Army Corps of Engineers in 1947, following severe flooding in the area, to deepen, straighten and widen the river.
The channelization of the river destroyed much of the floodplain-dependent ecosystem and had downstream impacts on water quality in Lake Okeechobee.The Kissimmee’s watershed is also a highly urbanized developing area, which includes Orlando at the very north end. Residents in a lot of those areas are on septic tank systems that are a source of nitrogen and phosphorus that leaches into waterways.
The Kissimmee Restoration Project will return flow to 44 miles of the historic channel and restore about 40 square miles of the river/floodplain ecosystem.
To see the complete series, click here.