Sen. Nelson Advocates Action on Everglades Flooding

Aug 23, 2013

This year’s heavy rainfall has sent water levels in the Everglades to their highest levels on record for this time of year.

The high water has caused animals to take refuge on a few tree islands, where they are more vulnerable to predators.

Senator Bill Nelson and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission are calling for emergency action.They want to have the floodgates opened immediately to lower the water levels in the area of concern.

Nelson is asking for an emergency trigger policy that would allow the floodgates to be opened immediately when conditions hit a certain level.

"When we establish what that trigger is, let’s make sure the trigger is tied to the well-being of the environment, the wildlife that lives there, the plant communities, and all our endangered species", Nelson said.

But this solution may have a downside.

Opening the floodgates would raise water levels, and that could lead to flooding in areas south of Tamiami Trail.

That includes a construction project along the Trail.

Dan Kimball is Superintendent of Everglades National Park.

He hopes to meet with managers of the construction project about opening the floodgates and letting the water levels rise.

"We need to go and talk to them to see if they are okay with going up to eight feet", said Kimball. "Anything above that, they say is going to be a problem."

Senator Nelson says that, if a hurricane were to hit next week, emergency action might become necessary immediately.