It is important to read carefully- This story is more complicated than it appears at first glance in the press. Knowing the structure of water management in Florida helps explain what our water managers are faced with. Did you know that the South Florida Water Management District operates and maintains the regional water management system known as the Central and Southern Florida Project? This primary system of canals and natural waterways connects to community drainage districts and hundreds of smaller neighborhood systems to effectively manage floodwaters during heavy rain. As a result of this interconnected drainage system, flood control in South Florida is a shared responsibility between the District, county and city governments, local drainage districts, homeowners associations and residents.

At the heart of the greater Everglades ecosystem, Lake Okeechobee historically overflowed its banks, sending a sheet flow of water south through the Everglades. Today, the 730-square-mile lake is part of a massive flood control system known as the Central & Southern Florida Project, which stretches from just south of Orlando to Florida Bay and serves 8.1 million people. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages Lake Okeechobee water levels with the goal of balancing flood control, public safety, navigation, water supply and ecological health. The Corps bases operational decisions - whether to retain or release water in the massive lake - on its regulation schedule and the best available science and data provided by its staff and a variety of partners, including the South Florida Water Management District.