Everglades Restoration Improves Water Quality and Benefits Florida’s Real Estate Industry
The American Everglades provide drinking water to nine million Floridians, habitat for 78 threatened and endangered species, and includes a World Heritage Site, an International Biosphere, and a Wetland of International Importance.
Restoring the Everglades is critical to the health of various ecosystems and the environmental benefits they provide. It will also help sequester excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, improve resilience to storm surges, and support the sectors that define the Sunshine State’s robust economy, including the real estate sector.
“Real estate and water quality go hand in hand,” said President-elect Christina Pappas of Florida Realtors, the state’s largest trade association. She noted that every dollar invested in restoring the Everglades generates $ 4 in economic return for the state, according to a recent analysis by Mather Economics.
“Florida Realtors have been advocating for improved water quality for many years and will continue to champion worthy projects, like the restoration of the Everglades, across Florida to ensure that environmental impacts on real estate are treated. “
Unfortunately, over the past century, water diversion and man-made flood control projects have cut off the natural flow of water from Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades, instead dumping massive volumes of fresh water into Caloosahatchee and St. Rivers Due to decades of agricultural runoff, these discharges from Lake Okeechobee are now polluted with toxic blue-green algae blooms that threaten the environment, public health, economy and real estate values. along both coasts.
Restoring the Everglades will restore a vital flow of clean fresh water south of Lake Okeechobee, revitalizing the Grass river, improving the supply of potable water for the region’s growing population, reducing damage to coastal communities from toxic algal blooms, improving property values and many other environmental benefits.
As toxic algae began to affect coastal communities in 2013, real estate professionals immediately recognized the importance of restoring the Everglades. In 2015, Florida Realtors released a report demonstrating a direct relationship between water quality and home values in Lee and Martin counties. At that time, the report determined that improving water quality and clarity would lead to an increase in the overall value of residential real estate in Lee County by $ 541 million and in the county. from Martin of $ 428 million.
Fortunately, Everglades restoration projects are underway, including a critical reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee and man-made wetlands that filter polluted agricultural runoff, so we can send more clean water south to where it is needed. no longer needed.
The US Army Corps of Engineers – the federal agency responsible for managing the planning and construction of the Everglades restoration – has the ability to ensure that more water is sent south through the system’s operations manual. of Lake Okeechobee (LOSOM). LOSOM is expected to increase flows to the Everglades during dry spells, creating a greater capacity to safely capture lake water during the rainy season.
This will reduce the likelihood of toxic releases to the east and west and provide dry season hydration to Everglades National Park, reducing the risk of wildfires. It will also recharge the Biscayne aquifer which serves as a water source for millions of people.
“Restoring the Everglades is certainly not the only solution to the global climate crisis, but it is one of the most important things that can be done now to make progress on climate change and support key industries that drive Florida’s robust economy, ”said Eric Eikenberg, CEO of the Everglades Foundation. “We know that our water infrastructure is just as important as highways, bridges and airports to our state’s tourism, recreation and real estate economy. Funding for the restoration of the Everglades is critical. “
Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Legislature have made the Everglades a priority, advancing the state’s share of restoration funding on an accelerated basis. The Legislature has just allocated $ 342 million for the restoration of the Everglades, and the Florida congressional delegation is united in asking the federal government for $ 725 million per year over the next four years to keep the Everglades restoration on the right way. This will also bring the federal contribution closer to a 50-50 share.
The Everglades of America are unique – a global treasure that belongs to each of us. Florida will continue to rely on a healthy Everglades ecosystem throughout this century and beyond. We must continue the momentum behind restoring the Everglades for the benefit of industries that are crucial to Florida’s 21st century economy and every Floridian.
Dr. Stephen Davis is the Scientific Director of the Everglades Foundation. “The Invading Sea” is the opinion piece of the Florida Climate Reporting Network, a collaboration of news organizations across the state that focuses on threats posed by global warming.