Originally published by The News-Press on July 29, 2021 by Chad GIllis

Federal water managers Thursday celebrated Everglades restoration work done north of Lake Okeechobee that will help curb harmful releases to the Caloosahatchee River and its estuary.

Restoring natural flows in the Kissimmee River is one of the top restoration priorities in South Florida as it will help hold back flows to Okeechobee while also improving water quality.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held a ceremony near the river to celebrate restoration work in the Kissimmee River basin that will allow the agency to hold more water north of Lake Okeechobee, which will in turn help the entire Everglades system.

What was once a straight-shot, channelized canal has been restored to historic, winding oxbows.

Storing more water north of the lake will help reduce the need for harmful discharges to the Caloosahatchee River, which is vitally important when the lake is suffering from a toxic blue-green algae bloom.

“Restoring the meandering river is important for improving water quality, and I think one of the overarching themes is to keep water on the landscape longer so we’re not impacting the receiving water so abruptly,” said Calusa Waterkeeper John Cassani. “We’re doing better with the restoration projects but we need to better understand the net effect in order to plan for the future.”

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