Water-Related News

Lake Okeechobee: How the Florida’s largest lake has transformed since the 1940s

Water is the lifeblood of Southwest Florida. It’s the heartbeat of our economy, the soul of our ecosystem, and the reason many of us live here.

As we consider where our water issues are today, we’ll take a look back at how we got here.

Lake Okeechobee translates to “big water” in the Hitchiti Indian language and is the largest freshwater lake in Florida. It is the second-largest freshwater lake wholly within the United States.

Many species of wildlife, fish, and fowl have made the body of water their home.

But what used to be described as clear with “clean sand” has a very different look today.

To better understand where we are now, Eva Velez and Lt. Col. Todd Polk with the Army Corps of Engineers joined us at the Herbert Hoover Dike.

“When the Central Florida Project was authorized by Congress in the 40s, the perspectives were different,” Velez explained.

Polk added, “When we look at the evolution is looking at the population growth in Florida and South Florida specifically, right, I think in the 1950s, around two and a half million, and you’re over 21 million today.”

A video titled “Waters of Destiny” from the state archives of Florida dates back to the 1950s and shows how the area used to flood.