Everglades Canals

CODEX Entry 3621: Everglades Canals


Canals have crossed the Everglades since pre-Columbian times, but its modern canals are wider, deeper, and hundreds of kilometers longer than any that existed previously. These were built to supply water to the sugar cane plantations of the conglomerate, US Sugar, which, over the decades grew with the demand for sugar. The additional hectares were drained from large areas of South Florida shrinking the Everglades to half their original size, also siphoning away water that once naturally flowed from Lake Okeechobee to Florida Bay. Worsening the problem, polluted stormwater washing off the farmland has released high concentrations of phosphorus from artificial fertilizers, which now threatens what remains of the Everglades habitat.

As a result, many elements of the local ecosystem has suffered, including the famed Rivers of Grass, and a US$2 Billion clean up operation is underway. Despite the 1996 legislation dictating that the polluter pays, US Sugar has successfully reduced its commitment to 12% of the bill with the rest being shouldered by the tax paying residents of Miami.