A Review of the History and Implementation of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) with Special Focus on Balancing Both Human and Everglades Needs for Adequate Fresh Water Supply

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Coastal Zone Management

First Advisor

Steffen Schmidt

Second Advisor

Samuel Purkis


Providing sufficient fresh water for an ever-increasing human population is an issue of global concern. One region of the United States where this is particularly evident is in South Florida where the population is projected to double to 12 million by the year 2050. Since 90% of Florida relies on aquifers for fresh water, groundwater is being used up faster than it can be recharged by natural means. (Aquifers are subsurface rock formations that store or transmit groundwater.) Consequently, since the population density is very high in South Florida, the Everglades has increasingly been used as a source of fresh water for human consumption. However, this massive wetland ecosystem is in a rapid state of decline due to a series of drainage and development projects carried out in the 20th Century. The Everglades has been recognized worldwide as an extremely valuable wetland for both habitat and human use. Now that over half of this unique ecosystem is gone and unrecoverable, there is a large-scale restoration project underway to preserve, restore, or enhance the remaining Everglades for its ecological function in addition to human benefit in the forms of flood control and fresh water supply. The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) is a multi-agency initiative that began with the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2000, a $7.8 billion budget that has been increasing, and is expected to take at least 30 years to complete. CERP intends to balance the Everglades' need for proper hydrology (depth, timing, duration, distribution) with South Florida's future projected demand for fresh water and maintenance of flood control. This research paper reviews the Everglades ecosystem (past and present), history of its drainage and development, CERP and how it came to be, and effectiveness of the ecosystem management approach Adaptive Management in balancing fresh water uses between man and Everglades.

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