In 1948, Congress authorized the Central and Southern Florida Project for Flood Control and Other Purposes (C&SF Project). This authorization represented the birth of water management in the region. With implementation beginning in the mid 1950’s, and the main features completed by the mid 1960’s, the water management program proved highly beneficial to many human interests – agriculture, water supply, and flood control -- but not to wildlife residing in the Everglades ecosystem.

The C&SF Project had three main components. First, it established a perimeter levee through the eastern portion of the Everglades, blocking sheet flow so that lands farther east would be protected from direct Everglades flooding. This levee severed the eastern 16% of the Everglades from its interior (see map). Second, the C&SF Project designed a large area of northern Everglades, south of Lake Okeechobee, to be managed for agriculture. Named the Everglades Agriculture Area (EAA), it encompassed about 27% of the historic Everglades and was a major factor in the economic justification of the C&SF Project. Third, water conservation became the primary designated use for most of the remaining Everglades between the EAA and Everglades National Park, limited on the east by the eastern perimeter levee and on the west by an incomplete levee bordering the Big Cypress Swamp.

Origin of the South FL Water Management District (SFWMD)

The South Florida Management District is the area of south Florida below the black line above. The boundary of this District was somewhat revolutionary at the time of its inception, in that it represented the boundaries of the actual watershed and not political or geographic boundaries.

In addition to the many national legislation acts addressing environmental protection and water quality that were created during the 1960’s, the Florida legislature, in 1972, enacted several of its own. Among these was the Water Resources Act that provided for the establishment of the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD). The enactment of this legislation had drastic effects on the dynamics of water management in the region.

The name of the Central and Southern Florida (C&SF) Flood Control District was changed to the South Florida Water Management District, along with a corresponding boundary change. The new district was to function as the local cooperator for the federally authorized C&SF Project. Specifically, SWFMD’s water management authority included flood protection, water quality protection, and environmental protection and enhancement.

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