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the western everglades


The Western Everglades spans an area roughly from the Okaloacoochee Slough headwaters near Immokalee to the coastal estuaries of southwestern Florida. They encompass more than 1,000,000 acres of wet prairies, pine islands, cypress strands, backcountry waterways, and mangrove forests. 

AWE Advocates for Western Everglades Restoration and Preservation

why preserve and restore the western everglades?


Listed Wildlife Species in SW Florida.


% More Listed Wildlife Species in than SE FL


Bird Species in SW FL

The Western Everglades habitat


Minimizing Red Tide Events

A healthy balance of saltwater and freshwater and of phosphorus and nitrogen flowing to the estuaries minimizes red tide events.


Slowing Water Flow

Native trees and vegetation inhabiting the Everglades, as well as subtle elevational gradients and sedimentation accumulating over geologic time, slow the flow of water and provide flood attenuation.


Healthy Waterways

Our quality of life and the economic well-being of our communities depend on our rivers, estuaries and coastal waters and on the ground waters which supply our drinking water. Our estuaries feed and protect hatchling fish, including some of our most important gamefish and commercial fisheries.


Multiple Adverse Events Have Devastating Effects on Our Coastal Waters

  • “Dumps” of nutrient-rich water from Lake Okeechobee into water flowing westward

  • Flows from the “bone valley” phosphate mining country North of us

  • Decades of federal canal projects to drain water efficiently & directly to the sea

  • Loop currents in the Gulf of Mexico, which bring red tide and sometimes oil spill-laden waters or sewage spills from the North to Southwest Florida’s nearshore waters

  • Filling and building on the wetlands needed to recharge the aquifers holding our potable water

a commitment to lasting change

AWE Advocates for Long-Term Progress

  • Restore natural water flows and science-based water quality levels

  • Find funding to transition single-family homes from septic to sewers

  • Reuse and recharge water as a defense against sea level rise and saltwater intrusion

  • Protect our existing high-quality beaches and coastal ecosystem

  • Build pumps, filters and water supply areas to reduce nutrient loading into our estuaries and to better manage the timing and amount of flow of water from Lake Okeechobee

  • Support solid planning and smart growth, including the transition from fossil fuels

  • Create the political will and financial appropriations to execute restoration projects which will benefit Southwest Florida.


project highlight:

Caloosahatchee River (C-43) West Basin Storage Reservoir Project

The Caloosahatchee River (C-43) West Basin Storage Reservoir project will improve the timing, quantity, and quality of freshwater flows to the Caloosahatchee River and Estuary. South Florida’s flood reduction system stores water in Lake Okeechobee during the annual wet season. When excess water is released, the resulting unnatural surges of freshwater to the Caloosahatchee River reduce estuarine salinity levels. During the dry season, when irrigation demands are high, little to no water is released to the river. This causes an increase in salinity levels. Both high and low salinity levels can trigger die-offs of seagrasses and oysters, species that are indicators of the estuary’s overall health. On June 10, 2014, the project received congressional authorization in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) of 2014. This makes the project eligible for funding during the appropriations process. PROJECT PURPOSE The C-43 West Basin Storage Reservoir will help ensure a more natural, consistent flow of fresh water to the estuary. 


To restore and maintain the estuary during the dry season, the project will capture and store basin stormwater runoff, along with a portion of water discharged from Lake Okeechobee, and water will be slowly released into the Caloosahatchee, as needed. This project also provides secondary benefits when the needs of the estuary are met, along with recreational benefits. Project features include: 10,500-acre storage reservoir 1,500 cubic feet per second (cfs) pump for filling the reservoir and 195 cfs pump for irrigation water supply Perimeter canal to convey drainage off-site Recreation component PROJECT STATUS In advance of congressional appropriations, the local sponsor, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), is constructing the project under 4 construction contracts. Three contracts (soils preload, 195 cfs pump station, and 1,500 cfs pump station) have been awarded. The embankment contract is scheduled for award in January 2019. Project completion is scheduled for December 2022.

helpful links

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