Did you know YOUR water comes from the Florida Everglades?

December 13 – The headline is true. The water you drink and use every day comes from the Florida Everglades. That’s why it’s so important to keep that natural resource flowing.

Begoñe Cazalis, the Director of Communications for the Everglades Foundation, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM to talk about the impact of the Everglades.

Cazalis said, “We all need water, drinking water, to live, so it’s important that we know and that’s part of the education that the key drinking water is drawn from an underground fresh water river in Miami-Dade County.”

The well head for the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority is located in a protected rock land near the Everglades National Park.

Cazalis said, “Thanks to that, the Keys actually gets one of the cleanest and naturally filtered water that there is. The Everglades is what holds our fresh water, filters it and then those wetlands help trickle down the water into the aquifer so that municipalities like the Florida Keys, Broward County and Miami-Dade County can pull the fresh water from there and send it to our homes and our businesses. That’s why it’s so important that we protect the Everglades, that we restore the ecosystem, because it’s not only about the animals and the amazing habitats in the Everglades, but it’s also about our own fresh water supply here in south Florida.”

The Everglades have actually shrunk over the last few decades due to development and agriculture.

Cazalis said, “We really didn’t know how interconnected the ecosystem was and how it would affect, for example, the Florida Bay.”

The Florida Bay is an estuary that needs both fresh water and salt water.

Cazalis said, “That fresh water that pushes into the Florida Bay also comes from the Everglades. So today the Florida Bay is receiving half of the fresh water that it used to receive, which is why it affects the health of the seagrass, the health of the Bay and it makes it more prone to algae blooms and to seagrass die offs and fish kills. So the Everglades also impacts the Florida Keys economy because of the fishing community, the angler community and all the tourist that come to the Florida Keys to just enjoy the amazing Florida Bay which is also why it’s important that we continue to push to get that fresh water south through the Everglades into the Florida Bay.”

The Everglades Foundation works to educate the public on these issues.

There are 360 different species that live in the Everglades. The manatees are being affected by the seagrass die off as well.

Cazalis said, “The manatees also need that balance of fresh water in the estuaries to be healthy for the seagrass, which is their food. That just goes to show you that water issues are all over and that they’re important and they’re interconnected and that we need to do everything possible to restore this water system and this ecosystem.”

The Monroe County Commissioners heard a presentation from the Everglades Foundation last week about the educational campaign called Your Water Comes from the Everglades.

Cazalis said, “We can see how the Everglades system is so complex and Everglades restoration is even more complex and has many layers, but I think we can all agree that we all need water and that we can all connect to that. So we wanted to educate people about why the Everglades is so important and how it impacts their lives.”

The foundation did a random survey in south Florida to ask adults of all demographics if they knew their fresh water supply comes from the Everglades – 95 percent of those surveyed did not know that.

Cazalis said, “A lot of times people think the Everglades is just a national park where the alligators and the crocodiles are and that is true, but it also impacts our lives and it offers many services to all of our residents and tourists.”

So the educational campaign looks to tell residents their water comes from the Everglades.

Cazalis said, “So that people can understand when the Everglades are under threat, it is our water supply that suffers and that’s why Everglades restoration is so important.”

Indeed, the $7.2 billion recreational fishing industry is incredibly dependent on the Everglades and the flow of fresh water.

The Florida Bay is actually what is called a negative estuary, which means it evaporates more than it takes in every year and that has to be supplemented.

Cazalis pointed out, “It’s impacted as well with sea level rise. As the sea rises, that’s even more salt water that’s coming in and that can potentially come into the aquifer and into our wells and sometimes that happens when there’s really not enough fresh water flowing into the Bay.”

The Everglades National Park just celebrated its 75th anniversary.

Cazalis said, “The Everglades has a very interesting history. It’s connected to a lot of the people in south Florida. It was actually 1938 when they had already purchased the land but because of the war it wasn’t until 1947 that President Truman recognized the park and did the dedication. It was the first national park that was designated a park because of its biodiversity and not only because of its beauty and its enjoyment for the people.”

Yesterday in western Miami-Dade County a groundbreaking of a seepage wall was held to help keep water inside Everglades National Park.

Cazalis said, “It’s an exciting time for Everglades Restoration and for our mission and four our cause. It’s all about the next generation and what we’re leaving to them.”

For more information, click here: https://www.evergladesfoundation.org/