Historic water management efforts have dewatered the northern Everglades and adjacent wet prairies for agricultural production. Sawgrass prairies have been altered to create retention areas for water containing agricultural fertilizers. Sporadic, high volume releases from these water retention areas are flushed through the Everglades to the coastal estuaries along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.
Florida Bay, Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries have experienced severe ecological changes due to these water use practices. The reduction of clean, sustained fresh water flow causes salinity imbalances in the estuary waters leading to seagrass die-offs and blooms of harmful blue-green algae. Scientific opinion holds that increased storage and treatment of fresh water and additional flow through the Everglades is essential to restoring these critical resources.