map of the Okeechobee watershed
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Lake Okeechobee means "big water" in the Seminole Indian language, an appropriate name for a water body whose opposite shore can't be seen from the water's edge. With a surface area of 730 square miles, it is the largest lake in the southeastern United States. Despite its impressive size, the lake is shallow, with an average depth of only 9 feet. Lake Okeechobee and its wetlands are at the center of a much larger watershed, the Greater Everglades, that stretches from the Kissimmee River through the Everglades and finally into Florida Bay. Lake Okeechobee is also a key component of South Florida's water supply and flood control systems.

Lake Okeechobee provides natural habitat for fish, wading birds and other wildlife, and it supplies essential water for people, farms and the environment. The lake provides flood protection and attracts boating and recreation enthusiasts from around the world. It is also home to sport and commercial fisheries. The lake's health was threatened in recent decades by excessive nutrients from agricultural and urban activities in the lake's watershed, by harmful high and low water levels and by the spread of exotic vegetation.

Despite these impacts, Lake Okeechobee continues to be a vital freshwater resource for South Florida, with irreplaceable natural and community values.

 
 
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Lake Okeechobee Restoration Projects

Lake Okeechobee restoration efforts are under way. The Florida Legislature enacted the 2000 Lake Okeechobee Protection Act and the subsequent Lake Okeechobee Protection Program to restore the lake and its watershed. The Lake Okeechobee Protection Program is a phased, comprehensive and innovative program. It is designed to restore and protect the lake by improving water quality and implementing long-term solutions through a variety of specific components. The Florida Legislature in 2007 expanded the Lake Okeechobee Protection Act to strengthen protection for the Northern Everglades by restoring and preserving the entire Lake Okeechobee watershed, including the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries.

Related Projects and Programs
 

 
In-Lake Projects »
 
Watershed Projects »

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