NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Restore The Everglades, But Risk Florida Bay

August 19, 2002

The National Academy of Sciences has warned that proceeding with the $7.8 billion plan to restore the Everglades could degrade the nearby Florida Bay.

  • The NSF's report concluded that the Everglades project could invite algal blooms in the 1,000 square-mile bay and kill its sea grasses.
  • That challenges earlier promises that clearer water and enhanced fishing in the bay would be the result of Everglades improvements.
  • The bay is a triangular mangrove estuary at the tip of the state's southern thumb -- where fresh water from the Everglades meets salt water from the Gulf of Mexico.
  • In the late 1980s, the bay lost 100,000 acres of its lush sea grasses, 90 percent of its sponges and many of its legendary game fish -- and nobody can explain why.

Some scientists blame dissolved nitrogen and increased freshwater flows to the Everglades. But the project could increase nitrogen reaching the bay -- further compounding the problem.

This latest warning is only one of many challenges that have cast a cloud of doubt over the viability of the Everglades restoration plan. The NSF calls for far more research into the bay's complex problems and potential solutions.

Source: Michael Grunwald, "Everglades Restoration May Affect Florida Bay," Washington Post, August 9, 2002.


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