The topography of the South Florida peninsula indicated here in greatly exaggerated form in order to show relied in the lower Everglades basin. Water naturally flowed through the Kissimmee River Valley into Lake Okeechobee and down through the Everglades. The key elements of South Florida's vital water system are the Kissimmee River, Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades. This subtropical watershed begins near the present location of Orlando, and is commonly referred to as the Kissimmee-Lake Okeechobee Everglades (KLOE) watershed. Under natural conditions, surface water flow from the Kissimmee River Valley ended in Lake Okeechobee, from which there was not outlet during the dry season. In normal summer rainy seasons, however, the water level of the Lake Okeechobee rose; and upon reaching an elevation of about 15 feet above sea level, it began overflowing the southern area of the lake throughout a forest of pond apple trees. Beyond this pond apple swamp lay the sawgrass-dominated Everglades, some 40 miles wide and extending southward about 100 miles to the tidal waters of Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
[Introduction][Natural Conditions][Next: The Kissimmee River]