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Restoring the Everglades

Read more about the problem and our solution at Renew Florida.

Photo Credit: Bob Branham

     For many years, the polluted water from Lake Okeechobee has been dumping into the Gulf of Mexico and into the Atlantic Ocean and the estuaries at the rate of almost 500 million gallons every year. The massive canal system that drains everything below Orlando also drains up to 1.7 million gallons in a single day into the coastal waters. This is all water that the Everglades desperately needs as does Florida Bay at the bottom of the Everglades National Park. Before half of the State of Florida was artificially “re-plumbed”, that water slowly flowed south and much went into the ground to resupply the deep aquifers that supply all of the drinking water for South Florida and the Keys. The water is now polluted with phosphates and nitrogen from excess fertilizer and a multitude of other dangerous substances. After the entire natural water system in the Everglades was drained, the area to the north, east and west of Lake Okeechobee was converted to farms, cattle ranches and dairies. The land to the south of the lake was dominated by huge sugar cane fields. If the land had not been artificially drained and the water sent to the coasts, it would have refilled the aquifers and by the time it got to the Everglades National Park and Florida Bay it would have been cleaned naturally. Now, there is only has a tiny amount of water that goes south because the sugar cane and other crops would be flooded.


     Our plan is to purchase many of the almost 3 million acres of land that the State of Florida has indicated that it wants to purchase through the Florida Forever program and then put under a conservation easement. The state does not have the funding to purchase that much land. That land that is now using far too much fertilizer will be put in a conservation easement and monitored, so that the excess nutrients will no longer go south and into the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. The biggest issue is the sugar plantations south of Lake Okeechobee because right now they completely block the water that needs to be flowing south, into the Everglades and then Florida Bay. Until this area is put back in a natural state, this disaster will only get worse. Many wonderful people and organizations have fought this battle for many years but the situation is worse now than ever before. We have been massively out spent by Big Agriculture. Big Agriculture has a very strong lobby, actively influencing the state government. The same thing is true with the US Congress where the lobbies give many millions to politicians every year. In return, Congress almost always give them exactly what they ask for.

     We can purchase these important properties and build light-on-the land, Conservation Communities on 10% of the land while the remaining 90% will be protected under easement forever. This is the only way to protect this state and prevent the Everglades, both coasts, the Keys and all of south Florida from reaching a point of no return. We are not far from that point right now.


     This is a monumental undertaking and larger than anything in the history of conservation. We know many people will say it can’t be done. It will require an astounding amount of money and work. We are Floridians that love this state and we are angry. We are going to do this because there is no other option. We will need a lot of help and we will need to raise a great deal more money than the Conservation Communities can generate from the sale of residential lot sites. We hope you will follow our progress and join us. Buckle up because this is going to be a wild ride.

by Hal Chittum

President of Renew Florida

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(386) 492-1564

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