Water is the lifeblood of Southwest Florida. It’s the heartbeat of our economy, the soul of our ecosystem, and the reason many of us live here.
As we look at where our water is right now, we’ll look back at how we got here.
Lake Okeechobee means “big water” in Hitchiti Indian and is the largest freshwater lake in Florida. And ut is the second largest freshwater lake in the entire United States.
Many species of wildlife, fish and chickens have made the waters their home.
But what was once described as obvious to “clean sand” today has taken on a very different look.
To better understand our current position, Eva Velez and Lieutenant Colonel Todd Polk with Army Corps of Engineers joined us at Herbert Hoover Dike.
“When the Central Florida Project was authorized by Congress in the ’40s, the views diverged,” explains Velez.
Polk added, “When we look at evolution, specifically looking at population growth in Florida and South Florida, yes, I think in the 1950s, about two and a half million, and today you’re more 21 million.”
A video titled “Waters of Destiny“From the Florida State Archives that date back to the 1950s and show how the area was once flooded.
Rain inundated the lowlands of Central and South Florida, inundated fertile lands, destroyed crops, destroyed homes, businesses, roads, and wreaked havoc.
So the plan to protect people, property and arable land begins.
An excerpt from “Waters of Destiny“Say,” Please remove it quickly. Take it with you when you need it. A large order for any one spot. But here we’re talking about 15,000 square miles that’s twice the size of the new jersey. Something had to be done and something was that the US Army Corps of Engineers was tasked with planning and designing a complete project for flood control across the district… This monster had to be controlled by those larger dikes and by larger canals. Larger shops to the sea. ”
The project is a big undertaking. At the time, the project was one of the largest earthquake work since the excavation of the Panama Canal.
And the work continues today with the construction of new reservoirs and an attempt to restore Florida’s environment.
Lieutenant Colonel Polk said, “Engineers in the 40s and 50s; Their goal isn’t to create a disruption to the flow to the Everglades and starve it, starving water choking it to Florida Bay, or, or, you know, this mass pouring into the shores. “
Those were unintended consequences, and to this day, billions of dollars of work is still underway to protect Florida’s most precious resource.
“We have to keep looking ahead.” Velez said. “You know, climate change is a big challenge going forward. And we’ll have to continue to make those changes over time and through that development as well. ”
All learn from the past while preparing for the future.
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https://www.winknews.com/2022/02/11/lake-okeechobee-how-the-floridas-largest-lake-has-transformed-since-the-1940s/ How Florida’s Largest Lake Has Transformed Since the 1940s