LIKE MANYLARGE ENGINEERING PROJECTS, therestoration of the Everglades is a daunting task. It isextremely complex for several reasons: first, theEverglades ecosystem is huge, stretching over18,000 square miles from the Kissimmee Riverwatershed to Florida Bay and the coral reefs (seeFigure 1); second, the restoration plan must attemptto balance the interests of many stakeholders; third,restoration goals must consider the complex andoften competing needs of different plant and animalspecies; fourth, the plan must take into accountunknown factors such as future climate change andurban population growth; finally, and maybe mostimportantly, there are competing visions of what willconstitute successful restoration.Since 1993, an unusual coalition of local, state, andfederal agencies, as well as non-government organi-zations, local tribes, and citizens, has been workingto reverse the damage to the Everglades. The effort isled by two organizations that know where the watergoes in South Florida—the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps), which built most of the canalsand levees in the Everglades, and the South FloridaWater Management District. In 1999, the Corpsissued its blueprint for the restoration effort, theComprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (theRestoration Plan). The plan’s primary goal is to "getthe water right"—that is, to deliver the right amountand quality of water to the right places at the righttimes. The plan proposes more than 50 major proj-ects to be constructed over an estimated 36 years ata cost of approximately $7.8 billion.
Much bigger than just Everglades NationalPark, the greater Evergladesecosystem (or South Floridaecosystem*) extendssouth from the KissimmeeRiver watershed to LakeOkeechobee, through theremaining Everglades, andon to the waters of Florida Bayand the coral reefs.
*The South Florida ecosystem as legally defined in the Water Resources Development Act of 2000.