PROGRESS: VICTORIES IN THE
FIGHT FOR CLEAN WATER

PROGRESS: VICTORIES IN THE
FIGHT FOR CLEAN WATER

Raising awareness, increasing education, and mobilizing an army of advocates to influence water-quality policy.

Raising awareness, increasing education, and mobilizing an army of advocates to influence water-quality policy.

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A TURNING OF THE TIDE...

In 2016, we were tired of seeing Florida’s poor management practices devastate the waters we loved, so we decided to shake up the status quo and fight for change. Since then, we’ve seen progress for Florida’s waters and America’s Everglades achieved at a record pace.

There’s a renewed focus and sense of unity among those involved in this fight for clean water. From advocacy organizations to state agencies to federal entities, the goal is clear: prioritize restoring and protecting Florida’s waters, the lifeblood of the state.

YOU ARE MAKING PROGRESS HAPPEN

Because more people like you are getting involved, real change is happening! Policymakers are forced to make things happen when tens of thousands of like-minded, passionate clean-water warriors get vocal about the future of our treasured waters.

The fight is far from over, but it’s inspiring to see where we are now, what we’ve accomplished so far, and imagine what we can achieve in the future.

DONATE TODAY FOR CLEAN WATER TOMORROWHelp us continue fighting for our waters now and into the future by donating to our mission.

PROGRESS ON THE PATH TO RESTORING FLORIDA'S WATERS

MAJOR MILESTONES AT THE EAA RESERVOIR (2023-2024)

After decades of delay and years of fighting for funding, construction on the critical Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir (EAA Reservoir) is steaming ahead. Made up of a 10,500-acre storage reservoir and 6,500-acre Storage Treatment Area (STA), the project will significantly reduce harmful Lake Okeechobee discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers by storing and cleaning excess water from the lake before sending it south to the Everglades, where it once flowed naturally and where it’s needed most. This cornerstone Everglades Restoration project is expected to be fully online by about 2030.

Project progress

In keeping with Everglades restoration’s 50/50 cost-share arrangement between the state and federal governments, construction of the project’s two main components has been divvied up between the Army Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), with the Corps responsible for the storage reservoir and the District spearheading the STA. The storage reservoir component broke ground in early 2023 and the STA was completed in January of 2024.

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https://i0.wp.com/captainsforcleanwater.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/IMG_8125-3-e1680098236688.jpg?resize=320%2C320&ssl=1

MAJOR MILESTONES AT THE EAA RESERVOIR (2023-2024)

After decades of delay and years of fighting for funding, construction on the critical Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir (EAA Reservoir) is steaming ahead. Made up of a 10,500-acre storage reservoir and 6,500-acre Storage Treatment Area (STA), the project will significantly reduce harmful Lake Okeechobee discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers by storing and cleaning excess water from the lake before sending it south to the Everglades, where it once flowed naturally and where it’s needed most. This cornerstone Everglades Restoration project is expected to be fully online by about 2030.

Project progress

In keeping with Everglades restoration’s 50/50 cost-share arrangement between the state and federal governments, construction of the project’s two main components has been divvied up between the Army Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), with the Corps responsible for the storage reservoir and the District spearheading the STA. The storage reservoir component broke ground in early 2023 and the STA was completed in January of 2024.

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EXECUTIVE ORDER 23-06 (2023)

To continue historic momentum for Florida’s environment and water quality, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 23-06 at the start of his second term in 2023. The order, titled Achieving Even More Now for Florida’s Environment, called for $3.5 Billion over four years for Everglades restoration as well as significant investments in the Indian River Lagoon.

Continuing momentum for clean water

Signed on the 4-year anniversary of the governor’s first-term pledge for Florida’s environment—Executive Order 19-12, which committed $2.5 Billion to the Everglades back in 2019—this new directive built upon record funding and major progress for Sunshine-State waters.

THE VETO OF SENATE BILL 2508 (2022)

Senate Bill 2508 was a blindsiding, political ploy by special interests to keep control of Florida’s water, threatening to roll back the progress we had made on Everglades restoration up to that point. When the bill was filed during the 2022 Florida State Legislative Session, it had red flags all over it. Thankfully, our community rallied, showing up like never before to oppose and eventually defeat the bad bill through a historic veto.

The fight of all fights

Over the course of 55 days, we logged two trips to Tallahassee (one day of testimony, one rally at the Capitol), 43,730 petition signatures, 155,746 emails to legislators, and 1,448 calls to legislators. Due to those efforts, the bill was amended twice during legislative session before finally receiving a historic veto from the Governor. It was a landmark moment for clean water and sent a clear message about the importance of water quality.

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https://i0.wp.com/captainsforcleanwater.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/DSC07725.jpg?resize=320%2C320&ssl=1

THE VETO OF SENATE BILL 2508 (2022)

Senate Bill 2508 was a blindsiding, political ploy by special interests to keep control of Florida’s water, threatening to roll back the progress we had made on Everglades restoration up to that point. When the bill was filed during the 2022 Florida State Legislative Session, it had red flags all over it. Thankfully, our community rallied, showing up like never before to oppose and eventually defeat the bad bill through a historic veto.

The fight of all fights

Over the course of 55 days, we logged two trips to Tallahassee (one day of testimony, one rally at the Capitol), 43,730 petition signatures, 155,746 emails to legislators, and 1,448 calls to legislators. Due to those efforts, the bill was amended twice during legislative session before finally receiving a historic veto from the Governor. It was a landmark moment for clean water and sent a clear message about the importance of water quality.

https://i0.wp.com/captainsforcleanwater.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Screen-Shot-2022-01-07-at-1.38.00-PM-e1641580972887.png?resize=320%2C320&ssl=1

SECURING A FAVORABLE LAKE OPERATIONS PLAN (2019-2022)

The new Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM) will go into effect in 2024, sending more water south to the Everglades and reducing damaging discharges to both coasts by an estimated 37%. Developing LOSOM was a collaborative 3-year process by the Army Corps of Engineers, ensuring all stakeholders have a voice in the new plan. Over 30,000 Captains For Clean Water supporters weighed in to help secure a favorable and more equitable outcome.

Derailing attempts by special interests to hijack LOSOM

For decades, the industrial sugar industry has had a stranglehold on lake management to guarantee water irrigation for their crops at the expense of all other users. As development of the new management plan threatened their control, Big Sugar made five attempts to undermine the process and “hijack” LOSOM. Through massive awareness campaigns and calls-to-action, Captains was able to defeat their attempts.

INFLUENCING A SHIFT IN POLITICAL PRIORITIES AND PUBLIC INTEREST TOWARDS CLEAN WATER (2019)

Historically in Florida politics, policymakers and water managers had been unfairly influenced by special interests to the detriment of all other stakeholders. However, with the growing influence of Captains For Clean Water and our spotlight on water quality, political changes to prioritize Florida’s natural resources were enacted by Governor Ron DeSantis in 2019, who campaigned on the promise to fix Florida’s water issues. Shortly after Governor DeSantis took office, he issued a precedence-setting decree to benefit Florida’s waters, titled, Achieving More Now For Florida’s Environment.

Setting a new precedence

The order called for $2.5 Billion for Everglades restoration, establishment of the Blue-Green Algae Task Force, and expedited work on key restoration projects and Lake Okeechobee operations—among other provisions. It was a momentum shift in the politics around Florida’s water quality, and it kickstarted historic funding for Everglades restoration and the long list of other much-needed water-improvement projects.

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https://i0.wp.com/captainsforcleanwater.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Daniel-Andrews-speaking-at-Governor-DeSantis-signing-of-Executive-Order.jpg?resize=320%2C320&ssl=1

INFLUENCING A SHIFT IN POLITICAL PRIORITIES AND PUBLIC INTEREST TOWARDS CLEAN WATER (2019)

Historically in Florida politics, policymakers and water managers had been unfairly influenced by special interests to the detriment of all other stakeholders. However, with the growing influence of Captains For Clean Water and our spotlight on water quality, political changes to prioritize Florida’s natural resources were enacted by Governor Ron DeSantis in 2019, who campaigned on the promise to fix Florida’s water issues. Shortly after Governor DeSantis took office, he issued a precedence-setting decree to benefit Florida’s waters, titled, Achieving More Now For Florida’s Environment.

Setting a new precedence

The order called for $2.5 Billion for Everglades restoration, establishment of the Blue-Green Algae Task Force, and expedited work on key restoration projects and Lake Okeechobee operations—among other provisions. It was a momentum shift in the politics around Florida’s water quality, and it kickstarted historic funding for Everglades restoration and the long list of other much-needed water-improvement projects.

Lake O 5-10-15

EXPOSURE OF CORRUPTION WITHIN THE FORMER SFWMD BOARD (2018)

In 2018, the former board of the South Florida Water Management District tried to sneak through an agenda item that would significantly delay Everglades restoration. Under the influence of special interests, they added a voting item to their monthly public board meeting agenda at 9:00 pm the night before the meeting. It called to extend the lease on the land designated for the future EAA Reservoir to Florida Crystals, a privately owned corporation that farms sugarcane south of Lake O. This was simply another delay tactic to prevent Everglades restoration progress. The extension was ultimately approved, but after a large public awareness campaign, the entire board was asked to resign for their actions, marking a major turning point for the way the water management district conducts business.

Draining the district to save the swamp

We, alongside others, protested this recommendation at the SFWMD meeting, only to be shunned by the board members who ultimately approved the extension. Then, after widespread public backlash to this decision, the SFMWD pulled a media stunt at the EAA Reservoir “construction site,” pretending to show construction progress. This created further public outrage, and the house of cards began to fall.

Eventually, the entire board was asked to resign and was replaced with new appointees who have been a beacon of hope for the future of our water management.

WRDA 2018 FEDERALLY AUTHORIZES THE EAA RESERVOIR (2018)

The Water Resources Development Act of 2018 (WRDA: a biennial federal legislation that covers a range of water provisions) authorized the EAA Reservoir at the federal level. Specifically, WRDA authorized the project under the Integrated Delivery Schedule, a rolling schedule that plots out Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan projects. That was important because it officially designated the EAA Reservoir as a planned project under Everglades restoration, and it could now receive funding at the federal level.

Making our voices heard

Securing this victory was a collective effort by our supporters, partner organizations, brands, industry leaders and businesses who all took action to make their voices heard, including 30,000 clean-water warriors who used our call-to-action tool to message their elected representatives in Washington.

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https://i0.wp.com/captainsforcleanwater.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/DSC06198.jpg?resize=320%2C320&ssl=1

WRDA 2018 FEDERALLY AUTHORIZES THE EAA RESERVOIR (2018)

The Water Resources Development Act of 2018 (WRDA: a biennial federal legislation that covers a range of water provisions) authorized the EAA Reservoir at the federal level. Specifically, WRDA authorized the project under the Integrated Delivery Schedule, a rolling schedule that plots out Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan projects. That was important because it officially designated the EAA Reservoir as a planned project under Everglades restoration, and it could now receive funding at the federal level.

Making our voices heard

Securing this victory was a collective effort by our supporters, partner organizations, brands, industry leaders and businesses who all took action to make their voices heard, including 30,000 clean-water warriors who used our call-to-action tool to message their elected representatives in Washington.

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FLORIDA SENATE BILL 10 PASSES INTO LAW (2017)

Senate Bill 10 authorized the state’s portion of funding for a critical Everglades restoration project: The EAA Reservoir. This step to fund the project at the state level was huge in kickstarting progress for what would become the cornerstone project of Everglades restoration, one that would provide the most bang for our buck in reducing harmful coastal discharges by storing, cleaning, and sending more water south from Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades.

'Now or Neverglades' Rally

Just a year after we had formed our organization, we were fighting tooth and nail for this legislation to pass, meeting with state policymakers and orchestrating a NowOrNeverglades Sportfishing Day in Tallahassee, where brands, captains, and sportsmen and women rallied in support of SB 10. It was a good day when the bill passed, but it was just the beginning for the EAA Reservoir, there was still a lot of work to do.

RALLYING THE OUTDOOR INDUSTRY TO THE FOREFRONT OF FLORIDA’S WATER FIGHT (2016)

Historically, the health of Florida’s water was viewed by policymakers as an environmental issue. Captains was the first to illustrate the economic value of water quality, highlighting clean water as the lifeblood of Florida’s economy and $85.9 billion tourism industry, including a $33.3 billion fishing and recreational boating industry. This brought the outdoor industry into the fight like never before.

An industry united

Captains recruited legendary anglers, fishing guides, global outdoor brands, and marine manufacturers to advocate alongside them, including YETI Coolers, The Orvis Company, Costa Sunglasses, Hell’s Bay Boatworks, SeaDek Marine Products, Pure Fishing Brands, and more. This shift sparked a new energy and level of influence that has supercharged our efforts to advance clean water solutions.

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RALLYING THE OUTDOOR INDUSTRY TO THE FOREFRONT OF FLORIDA’S WATER FIGHT (2016)

Historically, the health of Florida’s water was viewed by policymakers as an environmental issue. Captains was the first to illustrate the economic value of water quality, highlighting clean water as the lifeblood of Florida’s economy and $85.9 billion tourism industry, including a $33.3 billion fishing and recreational boating industry. This brought the outdoor industry into the fight like never before.

An industry united

Captains recruited legendary anglers, fishing guides, global outdoor brands, and marine manufacturers to advocate alongside them, including YETI Coolers, The Orvis Company, Costa Sunglasses, Hell’s Bay Boatworks, SeaDek Marine Products, Pure Fishing Brands, and more. This shift sparked a new energy and level of influence that has supercharged our efforts to advance clean water solutions.

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