EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK — On May 30, the South Florida Water Management District and the National Park Service completed an environmental restoration project in Everglades National Park that will increase the flow of clean, freshwater through the park. The Taylor Slough Flow Improvement Project will move more water south through to Florida Bay, where it is needed to balance salinity levels and promote ecological health.
“Partnership projects such as this Taylor Slough Flow Improvement Project are essential to getting the water right in Everglades National Park,” said Pedro Ramos, superintendent of Everglades and Dry Tortugas national parks. “Completing this project in time for the rainy season means Florida Bay will benefit immediately from additional flows of the clean fresh water it needs to thrive.”
The Taylor Slough Flow Improvement Project included the installation of 18 culverts at nine locations along a 3.2-mile section of Old Ingraham Highway in Everglades National Park to improve the distribution of freshwater flows and restore natural plant communities and wetlands.
The project supports the overall restoration goals of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) - the world’s largest and most ambitious ecosystem restoration effort. CERP is led by the South Florida Water Management District and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and implementing CERP involves important partners at the local, state, federal, and Tribal levels. The overall goals of CERP include reducing damaging discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the coastal estuaries and restoring the quality, quantity, timing and distribution of water to the historical flow of water through the Everglades.
Taylor Slough is located in the southeastern part of Everglades National Park and was historically a major contributor of freshwater to Florida Bay. The duration, timing and extent of wetland inundation of Taylor Slough’s interconnected wetlands and freshwater flows through Florida Bay are a critical component of the Everglades ecosystem.
In the early 1920’s, surface flow was substantially reduced by the construction of Old Ingraham Highway, which was opened as the first motorway to Flamingo, a small fishing village on the edge of Florida Bay. Old Ingraham Highway acted as a dam, cutting off and redirecting freshwater flow away from Taylor Slough. Additional infrastructure changes, including the building of the regional flood control system known as the Central and Southern Florida (C&SF) Project, have also reduced the flow of water to this important ecological resource.
Record State funding for Everglades restoration has allowed the South Florida Water Management District and our federal partners to expedite the completion of projects that improve water management across South Florida, reduce harmful estuary discharges, and allow more clean, freshwater water to be moved south to Everglades National Park and onto Florida Bay.