Restoration and enhancement of Lake Okeechobee and the Florida Everglades requires a comprehensive approach to manage agricultural runoff. The Florida Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) Act of 1987 was promulgated to develop and implement plans for protecting Florida waters. The South Florida Water Management District was directed by Florida legislature to develop management plans for Lake Okeechobee (SWIM) and the Everglades ecosystem (Marjory Stoneman Douglas Everglades Protection Act of 1991). These plans require agriculture to implement best management practices (BMPs) to reduce runoff phosphorus (P) loads. The Lake Okeechobee SWIM plan established a P load reduction target for Lake Okeechobee and set P concentration limitations for runoff from non-point source agricultural sources. Agricultural water users in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) are required to develop farm management plans to reduce P loads from the basin by 25%. The Everglades Forever Act of 1994 additionally emphasized linkage of these landscapes and consequent protection and restoration of the Everglades. Agricultural BMPs are being developed and implemented to comply with water management, environmental, and regulatory standards. Although BMPs are improving runoff water quality, additional research is necessary to obtain the best combination of BMPs for individual farms. This paper summarizes the development of comprehensive water management in south Florida and the agricultural BMPs carried out to meet regulatory requirements for Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades.

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