The Florida Peninsula is one of the most unique landscapes on earth. Periodically inundated in a sub-tropical setting, it features one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, the Everglades. The control of this water—draining it, redirecting it, and containing it—has been an evolving story over the last two centuries of man versus nature. And a story where there is no true winner, unless we can find a balance that ensures the ongoing health of each.
In the 19th century, rainfall across the Florida peninsula caused Lake Okeechobee to swell and overflow its southern banks, sending a steady flow of clean fresh water south across the sloughs of the Everglades to create what Marjory Stoneman Douglas termed, “The River of Grass.”
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, efforts to attract settlers to Florida led to the building of dikes and canals to block the natural southern flow of water through the Everglades. This created fertile, arable farmland in the areas south of Lake Okeechobee.
As industrialized agriculture expanded, led by the sugar industry, the damage being done by water mismanagement practices in Florida became apparent. Phosphate-laden farm runoff polluted Lake Okeechobee and, with nowhere else to go, was shunted into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie waterways, fueling massive blooms of toxic blue-green algae.
Additionally, the lack of freshwater flowing through the Everglades threatens the drinking water supply for millions of Floridians and has caused a radical decline in the native wildlife population, as well as massive seagrass die-offs, algae blooms and fish kills in Florida Bay due to hypersalinity.
In 2016, in response to this environmental emergency, a small group of fishing guides decided to stand up against the political and economic forces that were putting whole sections of life in Florida at risk. And this is where Captains For Clean Water was born.
Growing a groundswell of like-minded supporters, this band of anglers, outdoor enthusiasts, business folks and conservationists works to educate the public and put pressure on our state and federal representatives to take action on initiatives that will protect and restore the Everglades and Florida’s waters.
In 2000, Congress passed the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), outlining the steps to a cleaner future. However, CERP has suffered from a lack of funding and political support since then.
Thanks to the efforts of Captains For Clean Water, other conservation organizations, private businesses and concerned citizens, there is renewed energy behind funding programs to build the infrastructure needed to clean and send the water south to the Everglades once again. You’re invited to join the fight and help protect our way of life for future generations.