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As Everglades restoration reaches pivotal point, climate change should be given more consideration, scientists say

While the drainage of the Everglades has made modern Florida possible, with the vast construction of some of the most complex water management infrastructure in the world, it has also led to a cascade of environmental problems, perhaps most notably chronic blooms of toxic algae.
Courtesy Everglades National Park
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While the drainage of the Everglades has made modern Florida possible, with the vast construction of some of the most complex water management infrastructure in the world, it has also led to a cascade of environmental problems, perhaps most notably chronic blooms of toxic algae.

A committee of scientists says a historic attempt at restoring the Florida Everglades is at a pivotal point, and that more analysis is needed to understand how the watershed is responding.

The scientists also say there needs to be more consideration of how climate change will affect the restoration in the future.

The committee of the National Academies of Sciences says record funding has accelerated progress on Everglades restoration, and that several projects are nearing completion.

That means after several years of planning, the effort is entering a new phase of implementation. Here’s Denice Wardrop of Pennsylvania State University.

“What are some surprises that might happen? That’s climate change, and we have talked about that in previous reports. In this report I think we got much more explicit.”

The scientists say more attention should be paid to temperature and precipitation changes. The multi-billion-dollar effort to restore the Everglades is among the most ambitious in history.

The scientists also say water quality remains a concern.

They say a vast expanse of engineered wetlands in south Florida has improved water quality, but some areas are far off target.

Here's Wardrop.

“What are things that would get in the way of things being able to come online the way they were planned to? And I think water quality is one of those things.” 

Water quality in the Everglades has been the focus of decades of bitter litigation. The river of grass begins in central Florida with the headwaters of the Kissimmee River.

Amy Green covers the environment and climate change at WMFE News. She is an award-winning journalist and author whose extensive reporting on the Everglades is featured in the book MOVING WATER, published by Johns Hopkins University Press, and podcast DRAINED, available wherever you get your podcasts. Amy’s work has been heard on NPR and seen in PEOPLE, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, among many other publications. She began her career at The Associated Press in Nashville, Tenn. Amy grew up in Florida and lives in Orlando with her 7-year-old daughter.
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