The following is a timeline of significant legislation, litigation, projects, and other milestones in Everglades restoration throughout the years. For additional information, see our list of Everglades History Resources.
Real estate developer Hamilton Disston buys 4 million acres with plans to drain the land for agriculture. Disston constructed a canal connecting the Lake Okeechobee to Lake Hicpochee, providing the first outlet of water from Lake Okeechobee to..Read More
At the direction of Governor Napoleon Bonaparte Broward the Everglades Drainage District is created to reclaim the Everglades for agricultural production. Over the following years, the Everglades Drainage District constructed several canals, which continue to divert water from..Read More
Following two hurricanes in 1926 and 1928, which killed more than 2,500 people, Congress enacted the Rivers and Harbor Act of 1930, authorizing the construction of 67.8 miles of levees along the south shore of Lake Okeechobee and..Read More
Congress authorizes the C&SF Project providing for a network of more than a thousand miles of canals, levees, and water control structures throughout central and south Florida. These structures, along with previous attempts to drain and ditch the..Read More
The 1948 C&SF Project established more than 480,000 acres south of Lake Okeechobee as the EAA. This region is now more than 700,000 acres with the vast majority of those acres used for farming sugarcane.
The 1948 C&SF Project also provided for the construction of three Water Conservation Areas known as WCA 1, WCA 2, and WCA 3. Construction was completed in 1962. WCA 1 is now also known as the Arthur R...Read More
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the South Florida Water Management District enter into a license agreement under the Migratory Bird Conservation Act, establishing Water Conservation Area 1 as a national wildlife refuge. The refuge was renamed..Read More
By way of the Flood Control Act of 1962, Congress authorizes the Canal 111 (C-111) South Dade project, located adjacent to the eastern boundary of Everglades National Park, as a modification of the South Dade County portion of..Read More
In 1968, Congress authorized modifications to the C-111 Project for the construction of the Everglades National Park-South Dade Conveyance System (enlarged canals and additional structures/pump stations) to provide water supply to Everglades National Park and South Dade County...Read More
Congress enacts NEPA requiring federal agencies to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for every major federal action having a significant impact to the human environment. Agencies are required in an EIS to examine alternatives to the proposed..Read More
In response to concerns voiced by the Department of the Interior about failing ecosystems in Everglades National Park, Congress approves a “floor” for water to be delivered to the Park through the C&SF Project, guaranteeing a minimum amount..Read More
Following a special water conference convened by Governor Askew in response to water shortages, salt-water intrusion into well fields, and fires in the Everglades, the Florida Legislature enacts the Water Resources Act. Considered by many scholars as one..Read More
Congress enacts the Clean Water Act to “restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters.” The Act provides a comprehensive framework for addressing both point source and non-point source pollution. States are directed,..Read More
Congress enacts the Endangered Species Act (ESA) “to provide a means whereby the ecosystems upon which endangered species and threatened species depend may be conserved.” The ESA establishes a framework for listing species, protecting their critical habitat, requiring..Read More
The federal government creates the first national preserve in the national park system. This more than 700,000-acre preserve was established following a failed attempt by the state to use the site for a massive jetport.
In November 1983, as a result of adverse effects within Everglades National Park related to high rainfall and water management practices in south Florida, Congress enacts legislation (the Supplemental Appropriations Act) authorizing the “Experimental Program,” which allows the..Read More
The federal government sues the South Florida Water Management District and the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation alleging violations of state and federal law regarding pollution (particularly phosphorus) in the Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge and Everglades National Park. The..Read More
Congress passes the Everglades National Park Protection and Expansion Act, incorporating Northeast Shark River Slough (east of the L-67 extension) under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. This legislation also, among other things, authorizes Modified Water Deliveries..Read More
The Everglades Protection Act directs the State to establish and implement the Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) plan to restore the Everglades. This plan served as the precursor to the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) enacted by..Read More
Congress authorizes the Corps to study the effectiveness of the C&SF Project, eventually leading to the publication of the Central and Southern Florida Comprehensive Review Study (also known as the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan or CERP) in 1999.
Congress authorizes the restoration of the Kissimmee River ecosystem, which had been degraded by dredging and channelization beginning in the 1960s. This nearly $1 billion project was sponsored by the Corps and the SFWMD and sought to restore..Read More
The parties to United States v. South Florida Water Management District, 847 F. Supp. 1567 (S.D. Fla. 1992) enter into a consent decree approved by Judge Moreno. Based upon the requirements of the Everglades Protection Act enacted a..Read More
The Corps finalizes the GDM, a plan — required by the 1989 Everglades National Park Protection and Expansion Act — to modify operations of the C&SF Project with a rainfall driven schedule, along with some structural modifications.
The Florida legislature enacts the Everglades Forever Act. The Act eliminates the SWIM plan and establishes a narrative water quality standard for phosphorus that prohibits waters in the Everglades Protection Area to be altered so as to cause..Read More
In May 1994, the Corps finalizes its Final Integrated General Reevaluation Report for the C-111 Project. The C-111 Project boundary is that portion of the C&SF Project including and south of the S-331 structure.
In October 1995, the FWS concludes that Test 7 of the 1983-approved Experimental Program (which would have added to changes already explored in earlier tests, changing flows through the L-31W canal into Taylor Slough) would jeopardize the Cape..Read More
Following a ballot initiative, the Florida Constitution is amended providing “Those in the Everglades Agricultural Area who cause water pollution within the Everglades Protection Area or the Everglades Agricultural Area shall be primarily responsible for paying the costs..Read More
Following a ballot initiative, the Florida Constitution is amended providing for the administration of a trust fund administered by the South Florida Water Management District for the purposes of conservation and protection of natural resources and abatement of..Read More
In November 1997, the Corps agrees to reinitiate consultation under the ESA on the Mod-Waters Project and the Experimental Program, because of concerns related to a variety of endangered and threatened species including the Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow..Read More
In February 1999, the FWS issues a Biological Opinion regarding the Mod-Waters Project, the Experimental Program, and the C-111 Project. Evaluating the effects of construction features only, because operations had not been developed for the three projects, the..Read More
In a document commonly known as the “Restudy” or “Yellow Book” the Corps and SFMWD identify more than 60 projects to improve the quality, quantity, timing, and distribution of water through the Everglades. These projects include: A 200,000..Read More
Following the state’s failure to establish total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) for many waters throughout the state and a lawsuit by environmental organizations, the court approved a consent decree directing the EPA to establish TMDLs for over five..Read More
The Florida legislature directs FDEP to evaluate state waters and establish TMDLs for waters with impaired water quality. FDEP may develop basin management plans to achieve these TMDLs and promulgate rules establishing BMPs.
Following both repeated emergency deviations from Experimental Program Test 7 operations to protect endangered species and high level consultation among various agencies, the Corps implements the Interim Structural and Operational Plan (ISOP), as an Emergency Deviation from Test..Read More
To undo much of the environmental damage caused by the C&SF Project, Congress passes the Water Resources Development Act of 2000 (WRDA 2000) and approves CERP. Under CERP, the Corps and SFWMD, in consultation with other Federal, state,..Read More
The Save Our Everglades Trust Fund is established within the Department of Environmental Protection. The funds are to be spent on implementing CERP, as well as other projects including the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Protection Plan, the Caloosahatchee River..Read More
The state legislature directs FDEP, SFWMD, and Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) to establish programs to restore and protect Lake Okeechobee. The Act directs the agencies to establish the Lake Okeechobee Protection Plan to provide..Read More
The state had moved the court in United States v. South Florida Water Management District (S.D. Fla. 1992) to modify the 1992 consent decree following the enactment of the Everglades Forever Act. The court grants the state’s request..Read More
A proposal to develop a commercial airport between Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park is rejected by the Air Force, following extensive opposition from nearly fifty environmental organizations as well as other federal agencies.
In December 2002, several environmental groups challenged the Corps’ approval of permits to 12 mining companies that approved rock mining on more than 5,000 acres of land in the historic Everglades. The case was filed in federal District..Read More
In September 2002, the Miccosukee Tribe challenges the Corps’ approval and implementation of IOP in federal court in Florida under various federal environmental and other laws, including nuisance under federal common law and the Indian Trust doctrine.
The Natural Resources Defense Council and several other environmental organizations (the NRDC Intervenors) intervene in the Moore Case 1 in 2003. The intervenors also file their own cross-claim, demanding the expeditious implementation of “marsh operational criteria” — operational..Read More
Plaintiffs file suit to compel EPA to review and disapprove Florida’s amended Everglades Forever Act, claiming it establishes new water quality standards that differ from those previously in place under the Clean Water Act.
In the 2004 Gold Case, the court holds that the Everglades Forever Act amendments constitute new or revised water quality standards and EPA must approve or disapprove these standards. The numeric standard for phosphorus entering the Everglades Protection..Read More
Environmental groups challenge the Corps’ decision to issue a dredge and fill permit under the Clean Water Act for the construction of a biotech facility in western Palm Beach County. The court invalidates the Corps’ decision finding that..Read More
The Army Corps of Engineers begins repairing this aging structure to reduce the risk of catastrophic failure, which would threaten communities to the south. This more than $500 million project is expected to be completed by 2025.
Judge Hoeveler overturns Corps’ decision to issue permits allowing more than 5000 acres of historic Everglades wetlands in the Lake Belt area to be mined for rock to be used in roads and other construction projects and sets..Read More
The Court orders that the Corps complete a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) to assess the effects of the changes from IOP Alternative 7 to Alternative 7R (relief requested by both the Miccosukee Tribe and the NRDC Intervenors),..Read More
In response to Moore Case 1, the Corps completes an SEIS for the IOP. As part of that process, the FWS develops a Biological Opinion evaluating whether the IOP would jeopardize endangered or threatened species or adversely modify..Read More
Judge Altonaga concludes that “back-pumping” water from the EAA canals through the S-2, S-3, S-4 pump stations and into Lake Okeechobee without a NPDES permit violates the Clean Water Act. The court later orders the SFWMD to “apply…for..Read More
Environmental groups challenge the Corps’ approval of Florida’s plan to build CERP projects — in particular, a portion of the EAA Reservoirs Project, a project that would provide 360,000 acre-feet of water storage in the central Everglades —..Read More
In 2007, the Miccosukee Tribe amended an earlier (November 2005) complaint that had challenged the FWS’s 2002 Biological Opinion approving the IOP. The amended complaint includes additional challenges to a Biological Opinion included in the SEIS that the..Read More
IRL-South Project. Congress authorizes the IRL-South Project to improve water quality in the St. Lucie Estuary and IRL. The project includes four reservoirs (totaling 130,000 acre feet of storage), four STAs (totaling 8,700 acres), 90,000 acres of habitat restoration,..Read More
The state legislature expands the Lake Okeechobee Protection Act of 2000 to include projects to restore and protect the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers and Estuaries. The Act includes, among other projects, the Phase II Technical Plan of..Read More
The 11th Circuit vacates Judge Hoeveler’s 2006 and 2007 rulings in the Lake Belt case, holding that the court failed to give the Corps the level of deference required by federal laws. It remanded for the lower court..Read More
The SFWMD completes its study of the amount of storage needed to reduce the discharges to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries and to move more water south. The SFWMD concludes that approximately 1 million acre feet of..Read More
Under the C&SF project, the Corps establishes a regulation schedule for Lake Okeechobee. This regulation schedule guides the Corps in its management of the lake for flood control, water supply, and protection of the natural system. Prior to..Read More
Following Judge Altonaga’s decision finding that SFWMD must apply for an NPDES permit to backpump water from EAA canals into Lake Okeechobee, EPA promulgates the “water transfer rule” exempting the transfer of water between two water bodies from..Read More
In response to the 2008 court order in the 2004 Gold case finding portions of the Everglades Forever Act to be water quality standards, EPA disapproves of parts of those amendments as water quality standards and began rulemaking..Read More
On remand from the 11th Circuit’s decision vacating the district court’s 2006 and 2007 orders invalidating 12 permits allowing mining in the Lake Belt region of the historic Everglades, the district court again rejects the permits, using a..Read More
The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reverses Judge Altonaga’s decision and rules that backpumping water from the EAA canals into Lake Okeechobee does not require an NPDES permit after applying deference to the EPA’s newly promulgated “water transfers..Read More
The federal district court dismisses the EAA A-1 Reservoir Case (NRDC et al. v. Van Antwerp et al. (Case No. 07-80444-CIV-MIDDLEBROOKS)) because the reservoir is no longer being built pursuant to the Corps permit the environmental groups had..Read More
In May 2009, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals partially grants the Miccosukee Tribe’s appeal of a lower court order (a second challenge the Miccosukee Tribe filed related to IOP implementation)(Moore Case 2) related to the IOP and..Read More
In response to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals’ January 2010 opinion affirming a lower court decision rejecting 2001 permits the Corps had issued to several mining companies, the Corps approves a revised mining and mitigation plan and..Read More
Over a challenge by environmental groups, Center for Biological Diversity et al., v, Kenneth Salazar et al., a D.C. district approves the FWS’s designation of critical habitat for the Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow, despite the agency’s decision to..Read More
On remand from the 11th Circuit (in Moore Case 2), the Corps and FWS continue to use habitat triggers to define the triggers that would require reinitiation of consultation to assess the effects of an action on the..Read More
Because SFWMD stopped construction of the EAA A-1 Reservoir while land purchase negotiations with U. S. Sugar were ongoing, the court dismisses as moot the environmental groups’ challenge to Florida’s plan to construct a portion of the EAA..Read More
The court in the Gold Case finds the 2009 EPA Determination did not comply with the court’s previous order. The Court orders the EPA to issue an amended determination that prohibits FDEP from issuing NPDES permits for STAs..Read More
Upholding a special master’s report, Judge Moreno reverses a 2010 order compelling the construction of the EAA-1 Reservoir, finding instead that construction of the reservoir is “no longer in the best interest of the Everglades.”
The Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal reverses two lower court decisions upholding the issuance of development orders to permit hard rock mining in the EAA. The Court finds the development orders are inconsistent with the local comprehensive..Read More
Judge Gold grants EPA’s motion to amend his previous order and finds that EPA has made a “more committed effort” to comply with the 2010 order. The Court eliminates the requirement that EPA withdraw FDEP’s authority to issue..Read More
A federal appeals court rules against twenty-three property owners, finding that a lower court lacked jurisdiction over their claims that the discharge of polluted water from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie estuary constituted a taking of private..Read More
The EPA and the State of Florida reach agreement on the development of “Restoration Strategies” to ensure compliance with water quality standards for the Everglades Protection Area. The plan calls for the creation of 6,500 acres of new..Read More
A federal court rules on long running disputes regarding the need for Florida to promulgate numeric water quality standards. In 2008, conservation organizations had sued EPA under the CWA for failing to establish numeric nutrient water quality criteria..Read More
The ERTP — explicitly designed as a multi-species management plan — replaces the IOP as the operational plan for the southern portion of the C&SF Project. It sets forth desired habitat ranges and goals for multiple species and..Read More
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service establishes a new national wildlife refuge in Okeechobee, Osceola, Polk, and Highlands counties to “protect and restore of the great grassland and savanna landscapes of eastern North America.” Utilizing a working landscape..Read More
The Corps completes a one-mile long bridge on Tamiami Trail. When completed, the 6.5 miles of bridging will allow water to flow under Tamiami Trail and into northeast Shark River Slough. The road, which was originally constructed to..Read More
More than 5,000 people gather at the St. Lucie Lock and Dam to protest the discharge of polluted water from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie Estuary. The practice, which has occurred since at least the 1950’s, is..Read More
By a 3:1 margin, Florida voters pass the Water and Land Conservation Initiative, which sets aside 33% of state fees on real estate transactions (“doc stamps”) for conservation purposes. Amendment 1 is expected to generate approximately $20 billion..Read More
WRDA 2014 authorized four CERP projects, with total estimated costs of $1.9 billion: the C-111 Spreader Canal, Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands, C-43 West Basin Storage Reservoir, and Broward County Water Preserve Areas (WPAs). Two of these (C-43 Reservoir..Read More
In 2014, the Florida Senate authorized an independent technical review of the options to reduce the discharges into the coastal estuaries and move more water into the Everglades. The report identifies the need for 400,000 acre-feet of storage..Read More
Congress authorizes CEPP in the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act. CEPP is aimed at delivering more natural freshwater flows to the central Everglades and ultimately to Florida Bay. The project calls for the construction and..Read More
In its sixth biennial assessment of CERP, the National Academies calls for a re-examination of the original restoration goals in light of the scientific community gaining new knowledge on pre-drainage hydrology, climate change, and sea-level rise. The report..Read More
In July 2016, the Corps and FWS complete their reinitiation of consultation on how C&SF Project operations affect several endangered and threatened species and agree on a reasonable and prudent alternative to ERTP in response to multiple factors:..Read More
Declaring that an emergency exists in the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries due to the discharges from Lake Okeechobee, the legislature directs the SFWMD to design and construct a reservoir providing at least 240,000 acre-feet of water storage..Read More
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals reverses the district court’s decision from 2014 that vacated the “water transfers rule.” The appeals court finds that the rule is a reasonable interpretation of the Clean Water Act. The rule remains..Read More
The Corps approves and implements Mod-Waters Increment 1.1-1.2, incorporating and implementing the July 2016 ERTP Reasonable and Prudent Alternative and effectively replacing ERTP as the operating plan for the southern portions of the C&SF Project. It is explicitly..Read More