CLEWISTON, Fla. — Conservationists are touting it as a major accomplishment in restoring water flow in the Everglades.
A project to raise a 2.5 mile stretch of Tamiami Trail on the Miami-Dade County side has been completed. For the first time since the highway was built in the 1920’s, water from the Everglades will be able to flow underneath.
"This stuff that we’ve been humans have been doing for thousands of years, we know how to do it, it’s just a matter of getting the money flowing at a rate where we can do it more quickly,” said Vice President of Policy and Public Affairs for the Everglades Foundation Shannon Estonez.
She says this is the first step in shifting water flow from Lake Okeechobee south so excess water isn't sent to the east or west, causing pollution problems on local beaches.
However, some say it doesn’t matter what direction the water is sent if it’s still polluted.
"Florida Fish and wildlife needs quit spraying aquatic vegetation not only in Lake Okeechobee, but in Lakes all across Florida,” said the manager of Roland Martin Marina in Clewiston.
Iglesias says those chemicals are causing dead vegetation to collect at the bottom of the lake.
He also says there is pollution flowing in from the north along the Kissimmee River.he says those who don't live near the lake or spend time on it don't understand lake quality is a statewide issue.
They’re getting their information off of Facebook, they see something they like they post it and share it, and comment on it, but at the end of the day they truly don’t understand the system,” said Iglesias.
But Estonez says water quality and water diversion are two different issues.
“Even if the water was distilled bottled water, you still have to do things like Tamiami Trail and build reservoirs, because the water right now can’t move in the direction it’s supposed to move in.”
Estonez says until some of these reservoirs and other projects are built, there needs to be better water management and regulation of septic tanks.