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The volume of water (43,560 cubic feet or 1,233.4 cubic meters) that will cover an area of one acre to a depth of one foot.

Action Plan

A plan that describes what needs to be done and when it needs to be completed.

Adaptive Assessment

A process for learning and incorporating new information into the planning and evaluation phases of the restoration program. This process ensures that the scientific information produced for this effort is converted into products that are continuously used in management decision-making.

Adaptive Assessment Team (AAT)

An interagency, interdisciplinary task team of the RECOVER Leadership Group, which is responsible for design and revision of conceptual models and regional monitoring, preparation of the Annual Adaptive Assessment Report and coordination of science peer reviews.

Adaptive Management

The application of scientific information and explicit feedback mechanisms to refine and improve future management decisions.

Advanced Treatment Technologies

Biological and chemical treatment technologies to remove phosphorus from stormwater to achieve low concentrations once treatment is complete.

Adverse Impact

A detrimental effect relative to desired or baseline conditions.

Affected Environment

Existing biological, physical, social and economic conditions of an area subject to change, both directly and indirectly, as a result of a proposed human action.

Agricultural Privilege Tax

An annual tax levied on farming activities in the Everglades Agricultural Area and C-139 Basins to support Phase 1 of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Project (CERP).

Air Quality

A measure of the health-related and visual characteristics of the air, often derived from quantitative measurements of the concentrations of contaminating or injurious substances.

Alternative Water Supply

A supply of water that has been reclaimed after one or more uses, such as public supply, municipal, industrial, commercial or agricultural uses. The term also can apply to stormwater, brackish water or salt water that has been treated in accordance with applicable rules and standards to serve the intended use.

Annual Report Card

A document produced annually by the RECOVER Leadership Group as a means of informing the public on the progress being made toward meeting the goals and targets of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Project (CERP).


The absence of oxygen.


Human-created or caused.

Apple Snails

The Florida Apple Snail (Pomacea paludosa), a gastropod mollusk commonly found in shallow wetland environments in wetland environments in south Florida, which is the primary food of the endangered Everglades Snail Kite.


Consisting of, relating to or being in water; living or growing in, on or near the water; or taking place in or on the water.


An underground geologic formation, a bed or layer of earth, gravel or porous stone, that yields water or in which water can be stored.

Aquifer Storage and Recovery [ASR]

A technology for storage of water in a suitable aquifer via a well during times when excess water is available and recovery from the same aquifer when the water is needed to meet peak emergency or long-term water demands.

Artificial Connection

Man-made connection between basins that did not normally connect. South Florida’s recovery problem is in large part due to the artificial connections made for navigation, irrigation, flood control or storm water discharge. See also canal.

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Back Pumping

The process of pumping water in a manner in which the water is returned to its source.

Base Year Condition

A projection of the most likely future condition (e.g. water quality condition) at the time that the project becomes operational.


The initial approved plan for schedule, cost or performance management, plus or minus approved changes, to which deviations will be compared as the project proceeds.

Basin (Groundwater)

A hydrologic unit containing one large aquifer or several connecting and interconnecting aquifers.

Basin (Surface Water)

A tract of land drained by a surface water body or its tributaries.


The bottom of rivers, lakes or oceans, and the organisms that live on the bottom of water bodies.

Best Management Practices [BMPs]

The best available land, industrial and waste management techniques or processes that optimize water use or that reduce pollutant loading from land use or industry.


The number and variety of organisms found within a specified geographic region; or the variability among living organisms on the earth, including the variability within and between species and within and between ecosystems.

Biological Opinion

A document issued under the authority of the Endangered Species Act stating the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and/or National Marine Fisheries Service finding as to whether a Federal action is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a threatened or endangered species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of a critical habitat. This document may include a description of the Critical Habitat, and offer either a Jeopardy Opinion or a No Jeopardy Opinion.

Biscayne Aquifer

A portion of the Surficial Aquifer System that provides most of the fresh water for public water supply and agriculture within Miami-Dade, Broward and southeastern Palm Beach counties. It is highly susceptible to contamination due to its high permeability and proximity to land surface in many locations.

Blue-Green Algae

A type of algae natural to our area that blooms in the climatic and nutrient conditions it finds favorable. See also harmful algae bloom.

Blue green algae represents a significant risk to Lee County waters and the people that use and depend on this water for drinking, recreation, fishing, and other uses. Algae blooms occur in our waters when high concentrations of nutrients enter the water and stimulate the growth of microscopic algal cells that naturally occur there. The growth becomes much more rapid than normal and, under the right conditions, the algae can reach such high levels that the water turns bright green; and sometimes floating scum occurs on the water surface. The director of the Lee County Health Department wants signs posted when either of these two things are visible that recommend no swimming, boating or riding personal watercraft in the ailing waters. In St Lucie County, the signs at public areas read in all caps: AVOID CONTACT WITH WATER IN ST. LUCIE RIVER. A poster produced by the State of Florida authorities states that swimming in water with toxic blue-green algae can cause “skin rash, runny nose, irritated eyes;” and swallowing such water can cause “vomiting or diarrhea, affect your liver and poison pets.”



Water with a chloride (salt) level greater than 250 milligrams per liter (mg/L) and less than 19,000 mg/L.

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An engineering designation for the altered Caloosahatchee River.

The C43 West Storage Reservoir Project is part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Program (CERP) and is the reservoir planned for the Caloosahatchee River to be built in Hendry County (near LaBelle) and operational by 2010. It currently contains no plans for a water quality component. As of January 2006, it is about 30% designed; but this design has no water quality features other than the benefits of sediment seepage/settling. The Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau believes it is critical that the Reservoir contain a water quality component (filtration marsh) that has not been considered by the USACOE or the SFWMD and has not been budgeted as part of the Reservoir design. The current plan is to allow “seepage” to filter out excess nutrients, phosphorous and pollutants. After an outcry from Lee County, the SFWMD agreed to include a water quality monitoring program in its test cell evaluation plan; but a water quality component has not been added to the project at this time. The test cell evaluation will determine what water quality benefits, if any, the Reservoir will bring. SFWMD says adding a treatment component will delay the construction of the Reservoir and won’t help the Caloosahatchee estuary in the short term, because it delays the storage component.

Caloosahatchee Watershed
The area of land that catches rain and snow and drains or seeps into a marsh, stream, river, lake or groundwater. Homes, farms, ranches, forests, small towns, big cities and more can make up watersheds. Some cross county, state, and even international borders. Watersheds come in all shapes and sizes. Some are millions of square miles; others are just a few acres. Just as creeks drain into rivers, watersheds are nearly always part of a larger watershed. Watersheds are delineated by the U.S. Geological Survey using a nationwide system based on surface hydrologic features. This system divides the country into 21 regions, 222 subregions, 352 accounting units, and 2,262 cataloguing units. The Caloosahatchee Watershed is part of this system.

Caloosahatchee River Watershed Protection Plan

Developed by the South Florida Water Management District in cooperation with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Lee County, and other affected counties and municipalities, the plan is designed to reduce nutrient loads to meet adopted Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) and reduce the frequency and duration of undesirable salinity ranges in the estuary while meeting other water related needs such as water supply and flood protection.


A human-made waterway that is used for draining or irrigating land or for navigation by boat.

Candidate Species

A plant or animal species not yet officially listed as threatened or endangered on a national level, but which is undergoing status review by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service.


Capacity represents the ability to treat, move or reuse water. Typically capacity is expressed in million gallons per day (MGD).

Central and Southern Florida Project

A multi-purpose project, first authorized by Congress in 1948, that provides flood control, water supply protection, water quality protection and natural resource protection.

CERP Guidance Memorandum (CGM)

A document of prescribed format that officially captures decisions of the program managers and promulgates their guidance regarding implementation of the CERP. CGMs address an array of subjects including definitions, direction and procedures for reporting, web management, financial management and program controls.


A natural or artificial watercourse, with a definite bed and banks, to confine and conduct continuously or periodically flowing water.


Green pigments found in plants, which are essential for photosynthesis.

Coastal Ecosystems

Coastal Ecosystems encompasses seven major ecosystems. Each ecosystem, informally named by the coastal water body in which it resides, possesses unique hydrologic, biologic and anthropogenic features and includes both land (watershed) and water (estuary, lagoon, river, etc.) components. The ecosystems are: St. Lucie Estuary / Indian River Lagoon, Loxahatchee River, Lake Worth Lagoon, Biscayne Bay, Florida Keys, Estero Bay and Caloosahatchee Estuary.

Coastal Ridge

Area of land bordering the coast whose topography is elevated higher than land further inland.

Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP)
Part of the plan for the restoration of the greater Everglades ecosystem that includes habitat restoration and better management of natural resources, the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) provides a framework and guide to restore, protect and preserve the water resources of central and southern Florida, including the Everglades. It covers 16 counties over an 18,000-square-mile area. The Plan includes more than 60 elements, will take more than 30 years to construct and will cost in excess of $10 billion. Southwest Florida’s largest components are the Southwest Florida Feasibility Study and the C-43 West Storage Reservoir.

Comprehensive Plan

See Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP).

Comprehensive Plan Refinement Team

An interagency, interdisciplinary task team of the RECOVER Leadership Group that recommends refinements to the Comprehensive Plan and provides Comprehensive Plan Updates for Project Implementation Reports.

Confined Aquifer

An aquifer bounded above and below by impermeable or confining layers of distinctly lower permeability than the aquifer itself.

Conjunctive Use

The planned use of groundwater in conjunction with surface water in overall management to optimize water resources.


A condition that is to be minimized or avoided in the plan formulation and selection process to ensure that the project component does not result in undesirable changes in the project area or downstream waters.

Consumptive Use Permit (CUP)

A permit issued by the SFWMD under authority of Chapter 40E-2, F.A.C., allowing withdrawal of surface or ground water from the regional system for consumptive use.

Contingency Planning

The development of a management plan that identifies alternative strategies to be used to ensure project success if specified risk events occur.

Control Structure

A human-created structure designed to regulate the level/flow of water in a canal or water body such as gates, spillways, weirs and dams.

Conversion Tables



To Obtain













Square Feet


Square Kilometers




Square Miles


Square Kilometers




Cubic Feet


Cubic Meters

Cubic Foot



Acre Feet


Cubic Meters






Metric Tons



Cubic Feet




Cubic Feet Per Second


Acre-Feet Per Day

Cubic Feet Per Second


Acre-Feet Per  Year

Million Gallons Per Day


Cubic Feet Per Second

Square Miles



Square Miles


Square Kilometers


Conveyance Capacity

The rate, generally measured in cubic feet per second (cfs), at which water can be transported by a canal, aqueduct or ditch.

Cooperating Agency

An agency whose role is documented in a formal memorandum of agreement with the lead agency.

Critical Activity

An activity or event that, if delayed, will delay some other important event, commonly the completion of a major project milestone or the project itself.

Critical Habitat

A description, which may be contained in a Biological Opinion, of the specific areas with physical or biological features essential to the conservation of a listed species and that may require special management considerations or protection; these areas have been legally designated via Federal Register notices.

Critical Path

The sequence of tasks that determines the minimum schedule for a project; if one task on the critical path is delayed, the scheduled completion will be late.

Critical Projects or Critical Restoration Projects

Seven projects determined to be critical to the restoration of the South Florida ecosystem, which were authorized in 1996 prior to the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Project CERP. These are comparatively small restoration projects undertaken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE) and South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), and are being implemented along with the CERP projects

Cubic Feet Per Second [cfs]

A measure of the volume-rate of water movement; as a rate of stream flow, a cubic foot of water passing a reference section in one second of time.


A concrete, metal or plastic passage that transports water under a road or embankment.


Blue-green algae.


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A human-created embankment that controls or confines water [ See also dike].


The action of microorganisms causing the breakdown of organic compounds into simpler ones and the resulting release of energy.


The quantity of water needed to be withdrawn to fulfill a requirement.


The mass per unit volume of a substance under specified conditions of pressure and temperature.


A process that treats saline water to remove chlorides and dissolved solids, resulting in the production of fresh water.


The rate of water movement as volume per unit time, usually expressed as cubic feet per second (cfs).

Dissolved Oxygen (D.O.)

The concentration of oxygen dissolved in water, sometimes expressed as percent saturation, where saturation is the maximum amount of oxygen that theoretically can be dissolved in water at a given altitude and temperature. Artificially reducing dissolved oxygen commonly has adverse impacts.

Drainage District

A local drainage, water management or water control district that is created by special act of the legislature and authorized under Ch. 298 F.S., to construct, complete, operate, maintain, repair and replace any and all works necessary to implement an adopted water control plan.


The vertical distance a water level is lowered resulting from a withdrawal at a given point.

Dry Season

The months associated with a lower incident of rainfall, hydrologically December through May for south Florida.


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The science of the relationships between organisms and their environments, also called bionomics; or the relationship between organisms and their environment.


An ecological community together with its environment functioning as a unit.

Endangered Species

Any species or subspecies of amphibian, bird, fish, mammal, reptile or plant that is in serious danger of becoming extinct throughout all or a significant portion of its range.

Environmental and Economic Equity [EEE]

Analysis of impacts on poor and minorities. A program that provides a framework for the activities and analyses related to the social aspects of implementing the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). Also known as socioeconomic and environmental justice.

Environmental Consequences

The impacts to the affected environment that are expected from implementation of a given alternative.

Environmental Impact Statement [EIS]

An analysis required by the National Environmental Policy Act for all major Federal actions, which evaluates the environmental risks of alternative actions.

Environmental Resource Permit (ERP)

A permit issued by the SFWMD under authority of Chapter 40E-4 F.A.C. to ensure that land development projects do not cause adverse environmental, water quality or water quantity impacts.


An air plant that receives water and nutrients from the air and rain and that usually uses other plants for support.

The part of the wide lower course of a river where its current is met by ocean tides; or an arm of the sea at the lower end of a river; where freshwater and salt water meet. Estuaries include the shoreline and flood plane of such areas They are essential to the U.S. economy for commercial fishing and tourism. Estuaries buffer uplands from flooding and help protect coastal communities from severe storms. Actions in the contributing basins impact the health of estuaries and ultimately water quality, food supply and livelihoods.


The natural or cultural enrichment of an aquatic environment with plant nutrients leading to rapid ecological changes and high productivity.

Evapotranspiration (ET)

Water losses from the surface of water and soils (evaporation) and plants (transpiration).

Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA)

Land in the northern Everglades (“River of Grasses”) that was drained for agricultural development. The EAA is one of the most productive upland regions in the state, with 505,000 acres under production. 82% of this area contains sugarcane and 20%, vegetables, rice and sod. The EAA provides 40% of the nation’s winter vegetables and 25% of the nation's sugar.

Everglades Construction Project [ECP]

Composed of 12 inter-related construction projects located between Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades, the cornerstone of which is six stormwater treatment areas (constructed wetlands) totaling more than 47,000 acres. These areas use biological processes to reduce the level of phosphorous entering the Everglades to an interim goal of 50 parts per billion and a final goal of 10 parts per billion.

Everglades Forever Act (EFA)

A 1994 Florida law (Section 373.4592, F. S.), amended in 2003, to promote Everglades restoration and protection. This will be achieved through comprehensive solutions to issues of water quality, water quantity, hydroperiod and invasion of exotic species to the Everglades ecosystem.

Everglades Protection Area (EPA)

As defined in the Everglades Forever Act, the EPA is comprised of Water Conservation Areas 1, 2A, 2B, 3A; the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge; and Everglades National Park.

Everglades Restoration Plan

Consists of three components – CERP, natural systems and the states growth management program.

Everglades Stormwater Program

A program to ensure that water quality standards are met at all structures not included in the Everglades Construction Project.

Everglades Trust Fund

A fund created by law (Chapter 97-258, Florida Statutes) to support ecosystem restoration.

Exotic Species

An introduced species that is not native to South Florida’s various ecosystems.

Extirpated Species

A species that has become extinct in a given area.



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Feasibility Study

The phase of a project whose purpose is to describe and evaluate alternative plans and fully describe a recommended project.

Federally Endangered Species

An endangered species that is officially designated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service and published in the Federal Register.

Flood Control Storage Capacity

Reservoir capacity reserved for the purpose of regulating flood inflows to reduce flood damage downstream (compare with reservoir storage capacity).


Land next to a stream or river that is flooded during high-water or seasonal flow.

Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.)

The official compilation of the administrative rules and regulations of state agencies.

Florida Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services (FDACS)

FDACS communicates the needs of the agricultural industry to the Florida Legislature, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and the water management districts and ensures participation of agriculture in the development and implementation of water policy decisions. FDACS also oversees Florida's soil and water conservation districts, which coordinate closely with the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP)

The SFWMD operates under the general supervisory authority of the FDEP, which includes budgetary oversight.

Florida Statutes (F.S.)

A permanent collection of state laws organized by subject area into a code made up of titles, chapters, parts and sections. The Florida Statutes are updated annually by laws that create, amend or repeal statutory material.

Floridan Aquifer System (FAS)

A highly used aquifer system composed of the Upper Floridan and Lower Floridan Aquifers. It is the principal source of water supply north of Lake Okeechobee. The upper Floridan Aquifer is used for drinking water supply in parts of Martin and St. Lucie counties.


The volume of water passing a given point per unit of time, including in-stream flow requirements, minimum flow and peak flow.

Food Web

The totality of interacting food chains in an ecological community.

Forward Pumping

Installation of pumps in Lake Okeechobee that can deliver water when lake levels are below 10 feet (down to approximately seven feet); increases available water supply storage of the Lake by approximately 1.2 million acre-feet. Project will provide increased operational flexibility for Lake Okeechobee and will facilitate lower overall Lake levels. Estimated cost is $50 to $75 million.


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Gantt Chart

A chart that uses timelines and other symbols to illustrate multiple, time-based activities or projects on a horizontal time scale.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

The abstract representation of natural or cultural features of a landscape into a digital database, presented in a geographic form.

Governing Board

Governing Board of the South Florida Water Management District.


Gallons per day.


Gallons per minute.

Grass Beds

Submerged marine, estuarine and freshwater vegetation that is critical for habitat.

Greater Everglades Ecosystem

An area consisting of the lands and waters within the boundary of the South Florida Water Management District, including the built environment, the Everglades, the Florida Keys and the contiguous near shore coastal waters of South Florida (also shown under South Florida Ecosystem).


Water stored underground in pore spaces between rocks, in other alluvial materials and in fractures of hard rock occurring in the saturated zone.

Groundwater Level

Measured through the water level in a well, which is a measure of the hydraulic head in the aquifer system. When groundwater level is as high as a natural or man-made conveyance or waterbody, surface water flow is created.

Groundwater Pumping

The quantity of water extracted from groundwater storage.

Groundwater Seepage

The groundwater flow in response to a hydraulic gradient.

Groundwater Table

The upper surface of the zone of saturation, except where the surface is formed by an impermeable body.


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The area or environment where an organism or ecological community normally lives or occurs.


Localized, thick stands of trees that can grow on natural rises of only a few inches in the land.

Harmful Algae Blooms

An algae bloom (red tide, red drift, and blue green are among them) that causes harm to natural systems or human health, safety and welfare.


A unit of measure in the metric system equal to 10,000 square meters or 2.47 acres.

Herbert Hoover Dike

The dike that surrounds Lake Okeechobee.


The quality of being diverse, not comparable in kind, unlike, dissimilar or not uniform.

Hierarchical Planning

A planning approach in which each managerial level breaks planning tasks into the activities that must be done at that level and that establishes the objectives for the next-lower level of planning.

Hydrologic Condition

The state of an area pertaining to the amount and form of water present.

Hydrologic Response

An observed increase or decrease of water in a particular area.


The scientific study of the properties, distribution and effects of water on the earth’s surface, in the soil and underlying rocks, and in the atmosphere.


A depiction of water levels through annual cycles; this includes water depth and duration, along with quantity, timing and distribution of surface water to a specific area.


For non-tidal wetlands, the average duration of flooding, which is based only on the presence of surface water and not its depth.


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In-stream Flow Requirements

The amount of water flowing through a stream course needed to sustain in-stream values.

Indian River Lagoon

Extending for 156 miles from north of Cape Canaveral to Stuart along the east coast of Florida, this lagoon is America's most diverse estuary, home to more than 4,000 plant and animal species.

Indicator Species

An organism, species or community that indicates the presence or absence of certain environmental conditions.


The movement of water through the soil surface.


An animal that does not have a backbone; examples include crayfish, insects and mollusks.


The application of water to crops and other plants by artificial means.

Irrigation Water

Water made available from a project that is used primarily in the production of agricultural crops or livestock, including the watering of livestock and water used for domestic purposes, such as landscaping or pasture for animals that are kept for personal enjoyment.


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Jeopardy Opinion

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or National Marine Fisheries Service opinion that an action is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a listed species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat; the finding includes reasonable and prudent alternatives, if any.


Young fish older than one year but not having reached reproductive age.


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A body of water separated from the ocean by barrier islands, with limited water exchange with the ocean through inlets.

Lake Okeechobee
730-square-mile, relatively shallow lake with an average depth of nine feet (2.7 meters). It is the second-largest freshwater lake contained entirely in the continental U.S., second only to Lake Michigan. Lake Okeechobee's drainage basin covers more than 4,600 square miles (11,913 km2).

Lake Okeechobee Protection Act (Sec. 373.4595, F.S.)

Passed in 2000, this Act requires that by January 1, 2004, the South Florida Water Management District -- in cooperation with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services -- shall complete a Lake Okeechobee Protection Plan. This Plan will contain an implementation schedule for subsequent phases of phosphorus load reduction consistent with the total maximum daily loads.

Lake Okeechobee Protection Plan (LOPP)

In 2000, the Florida state legislature passed the Lake Okeechobee Protection Act (LOPA) to reduce phosphorus inflows into the Lake through a comprehensive, phased program linked to meeting the TMDL target by 2015. Coordinating agencies submitted the initial Lake Okeechobee Protection Plan (LOPP) to the Legislature in 2004. LOPA requires the plan to be updated every three years. In 2007, the Legislature expanded LOPA to include protection of the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie watersheds and estuaries (Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program).

Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS)

LORS was initiated to address high lake levels, high estuarine discharges, estuary ecosystem conditions, and lake ecology conditions that occurred during the 2003 to 2005 time period. The previous lake regulation schedule, the Water Supply and Environmental Schedule (WSE) did not adequately address the effect of high water levels on the integrity of the Herbert Hoover Dike. The LORS considered the back-to-back historically significant 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons' effects on the recognized structural integrity issues of the dike, along with effects to other project purposes.

Land Classification

An economic classification of variations in land reflecting its ability to sustain long-term agricultural production.


A method of waste disposal wherein materials are buried; environmental protection laws require the sites to be constructed with impermeable barriers to prevent hazardous wastes or pollutants from escaping into the surrounding soils or air.

Lee County
Lee County Government provides services to the more than 600,000 residents of Lee County and its cities. This site links viewers to the county's programs, services and departments. Also included are links to websites for the five incorporated cities that fall within the county boundaries, other public agencies and separately elected constitutional officers.

Lee County Board of County Commissioners
The five-member Board of County Commissioners for Lee County is the legislative and governing body of the County. Each County Commissioner is elected at large for a four-year term of office, and each Commissioner represents and resides in one of the five Commission Districts. The Board elects a Chairman who serves as its presiding officer.

Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau
The VCB is devoted to maintaining and building year-round tourism in Lee County. The organization serves the broader interests of the County's economy by acting as an industry leader to market the entire area globally, facilitate travel to the area and preserve and protect the area's unique attributes for the continual benefit of its residents and the travel and tourism industry.


A human-created embankment that controls or confines water.


The scientific study of the physical characteristics and biology of lakes, streams and ponds.

Littoral Zone

The shore of land surrounding a water body that is characterized by periodic inundation or partial saturation by water level and that is typically defined by the species of vegetation found there.

Local Sponsor

The entity that is partnering with the Federal Government to complete a specific project or program; in the case of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), the local sponsor for the majority of the program is the South Florida Water Management District.


An enclosure in a canal with gates at each end used to pass boats from location to another.


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Macroalgal Blooms

Large algae blooms that are commonly referred to as seaweeds (not to be confused with sea grasses). Macroalgal blooms or large seaweed blooms are generally organized into three groups - red, green and brown. Most marine seaweeds are red and brown.



Visible plants found in aquatic environments, including sawgrass, sedges and lilies.

Mangrove Forest

A community of mangrove trees that may consist of the red mangrove, black mangrove and white mangrove.


Soil comprised of clays, carbonates and shell remains.


An area of low-lying wetlands.

Mass Loading

The mass of material entering an area per unit time, such as phosphorus loading, generally expressed as metric tons per year.

Master Program Management Plan [MPMP]

A document that describes the framework and processes to be used by the USACOE and the SFWMD for managing and monitoring implementation of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP).


A heavy metal that is toxic to most organisms when converted into a byproduct of inorganic-organic reaction; it is distributed into the environment mostly as residual particles from industrial processes.


A particularly toxic organic form of mercury that concentrates in aquatic food webs.

Metric Ton (mt)

A volumetric unit of measurement equivalent to 1,000 kilograms or 2,205 pounds.


Millons of gallons per day.


Milligrams per liter.


Millions of gallons per year.

Minimum Flow

The lowest flow in a specified period of time. Too low a flow for too long is harmful. [Below 300 cubic feet per second (cfs) in the Caloosahatchee River is harmful at S-79.]

Minimum Flows and Levels [MFLs]

A calculation that uses the best available information to determine a minimum flow and minimum level for each water body and that reflects seasonal variations when appropriate; Florida Statute requires water management districts to set water levels for each major body of water at which further withdrawals would be significant to the water resources or ecology of the area.

Muck lands

Fertile soil containing putrid vegetative matter.


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National Geodetic Vertical Datum (NGVD)

A nationally established reference for elevation data; usually measured in feet, the elevation above or depth below mean sea level.

No Jeopardy Opinion

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or National Marine Fisheries Service finding that an action is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a listed species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat.

Non-Consumptive Water Use

Water uses that do not substantially deplete water supplies, including swimming, boating, water skiing, fishing, maintenance of stream-related fish and wildlife habitat, hydropower generation and other uses.

Nonpoint Source

Pollution source originating over broad areas, such as areas of fertilizer and pesticide application or leaking sewer systems, rather than from discrete points.

Northern Everglades and Estuary Protection Act (NEEPA)
The Northern Everglades and Estuary Protection Act (NEEPA) is an amendment to and expansion of the Lake Okeechobee Protection Act of 2000 (LOPA). The landmark legislation defines the "Northern Everglades" as including Lake Okeechobee, the Caloosahatchee River, and the St. Lucie River Watersheds and recognizes that water quality and quantity problems exist and are getting worse within the lake and two river watersheds. The Act -- which confers equal status and protection to the rivers and estuaries that have been dumping grounds for polluted lake waters -- calls for the development of far-reaching plans to protect and improve the quality, quantity, timing and distribution of water north of Lake Okeechobee. In addition, the Estuary Protection Program for the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie River Watersheds reduces pollution that flows into the rivers, restores their natural hydrology, and ensures compliance with applicable water quality standards.


Elements essential as raw materials for the growth of an organism.


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Oligohaline Zone

A low salinity region of an estuary; typically 0.5 to 5.0 parts per thousand. The Eastern reaches of the Caloosahatchee River between the Edison Bridge and S-79 is the oligohaline zone for the River, with various stream interfaces with the River further west also constituting such zones.

One-in-10-Year Drought

A drought of such intensity that it is expected to have a return frequency of once in every 10 years. In other words, there is only a 10 percent chance (1 in 10) that less than this amount of rain will fall in any given year.

Operations Planning Team

An interagency, interdisciplinary task team of the RECOVER Leadership Group, which assists in design of operational criteria for plan components and recommends operational improvements during plan implementation.

Other Program Element [OPE]

One of 12 components identified in the Comprehensive Plan that will be implemented through programs other than CERP, including the Critical Restoration Projects Authority, or which will be implemented with an appropriate local sponsor under separate Design Agreements and Project Management Plans.


An end result; for purposes of the CERP, a quality of the restored south Florida ecosystem.


Proactive communication and productive involvement with the public to best meet the water resource needs of South Florida.

Oxygen Demand

The biological or chemical demand of oxygen dissolved in water; required by biological processes for respiration.


Peak Flow

The maximum instantaneous flow in a specified period of time. Too high a flow for too long is harmful. Above 2,800 cfs (cubic feet per second) is harmful at S-79.


Soil rich in humus or organic material (exerts of oxygen demand) that is highly porous.

Pelagic Zone

Open water zone, as in the ocean.


The downward movement of water through the soil or alluvium to the groundwater table.

Performance Measure

Performance measures quantify how well or how poorly an action meets a specific objective. Good performance measures are quantifiable, have a specific target, indicate when a target has been reached and measure the degree to which the goal has been met. These measures have been used to evaluate complex restoration project goals as well as land acquisition plans.


The biological community of microscopic plants and animals attached to surfaces in aquatic environments, for example algae.


A measure of a porous material’s ability to allow fluids or gases to flow through its pores; an important property of rocks that determines how much and how rapidly fluids or gases can move through them, for example, how much water can be pumped from an aquifer.

Phosphorus [P]

An element or nutrient required for energy production in living organisms; distributed into the environment mostly as phosphates by agricultural runoff and life cycles; frequently the limiting factor for growth of microbes and plants.


The genesis and evolution of land forms.


The floating, usually tiny, plant life living in a body of water.


Nearly level land composed of coarse, poorly drained soils and dominated by pine trees.


A plankton eating organism.

Point Source

Any discernible, confined and discrete single source from which pollutants are discharged. Point sources include any pipe, ditch, channel, well, discrete fissure, container, rolling stock, concentrated animal feeding operation, boats or other floating water craft. This term does not include agricultural stormwater discharges and return flows from irrigated agriculture.

Potable Water

Water that can be consumed by humans without ill effects; government agencies have adopted standards of quality that specify limits of chemical constituents in water sources.

Pre-Construction Engineering and Design Phase [PED]

The phase of project development that follows the study phase and precedes the construction phase. While the Comprehensive Plan comprised the study phase of this program, Project Implementation Reports, Detailed Design and Plans and Specifications comprise the PED phase.


Water discharged from the atmosphere in the form of fog, rain, sleet, hail or snow.

Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement [PEIS]

An environmental impact statement prepared prior to a Federal agency’s decision regarding a major program, plan or policy, which usually is broad in scope and followed by subsequently more narrowly focused National Environmental Policy Act compliance documents.

Programmatic Regulations

Section 601(h) of WRDA 2000 states that the overarching purpose of the Comprehensive Plan is the restoration, preservation and protection of the south Florida ecosystem while providing for the other water-related needs of the region, including water supply and flood protection. The purpose of the regulations is to ensure that the goals and objectives of CERP are achieved.

Project Cooperation Agreement [PCA]

A document that describes the roles and responsibilities of the USACOE and SFWMD for real estate acquisition, construction, construction management and operations and maintenance.

Project Delivery Team [PDT]

An interdisciplinary group formed from the resources of the implementing agencies, which develops the products necessary to deliver the project.

Project Duration

The time it takes to complete an entire project from starting the first task to finishing the last task.

Project Implementation Report [PIR]

A decision document that will bridge the gap between the conceptual design contained in the Comprehensive Plan and the detailed design necessary to proceed to construction.

Project Sponsor

A governmental entity partnering with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to jointly execute the project as part of the CERP; can be the South Florida Water Management District, a State of Florida Agency, a local government within the State of Florida or a Tribal Government.

Project Start Date

The beginning of the Pre-Construction Engineering and Design phase.

Proposed Action

A plan that a Federal agency intends to implement or undertake and that is the subject of an environmental analysis; this is usually, but not always, the agency’s preferred alternative for a project; the proposed action and all reasonable alternatives are evaluated against the no action alternative.


PSTA or "periphyton-based stormwater treatment area," a water quality treatment system that utilizes "periphyton" as a dominant component. Periphyton is a mat-like assemblage of algae, phytoplankton and other microscopic organisms that occurs naturally in the Everglades. Periphyton is important to phosphorous removal technology because it has been demonstrated that the calcareous mat removes phosphorous from water.

Public Water Supply (PWS)

Utilities that provide potable (drinking) water for public use.

Pulse Release

A measured and planned release of water that follows a bell curve.

Pump Station

A human constructed structure that uses pumps to transfer water from one location to another.

PURRE Water Coalition (People United to Restore Our Rivers & Estuaries)
A group of concerned citizens formed to promote the protection and restoration of the Calooshatchee River, its estuary, the Southwest Florida environment, and the broader South Florida ecosystem.


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Receiving Waters

The water bodies immediately downstream of a project.


The processes of water filling the voids in an aquifer, which causes the piezometric head or water table to rise in elevation.

Reclaimed Water

Water that has received at least secondary treatment and basic disinfection and is reused after flowing out of a domestic wastewater treatment facility.

Reconnaissance Study

The first phase of a USACOE project; this phase is concerned with defining the problem, assessing the sponsor’s level of interest and support, deciding to progress to the feasibility phase based on Federal interest, and estimating the time and money to complete the feasibility study.

RECOVER Leadership Group

A team, co-chaired by one staff member each from the USACOE and the SFWMD, that has lead responsibility for the overall management of the RECOVER process,. The group is responsible for coordinating and integrating the activities of the RECOVER teams to ensure that the overall focus and direction of the implementation process remains consistent with the goals of system-wide restoration.

Red Drift Algae

A form of harmful algae bloom that creates unusual biomass concentrations. A newly released study suggests that improved management of freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee, combined with nutrient removal strategies for sewage within the Caloosahatchee River drainage basin, could help mitigate future outbreaks of harmful algae blooms such as red drift algae. Click here for details of the complete study

Red Tide

A higher-than-normal concentration of a microscopic alga (plant-like organisms) that produces a toxin that can affect the central nervous system of fish. At high concentrations (called a bloom), the organisms may discolor the water. However, red tides are not always red. They can appear greenish, brownish, and even purple in color. The water can even remain its normal color during a bloom. People experience respiratory irritation (coughing, sneezing, and tearing) when the red tide organism (K. brevis) is present along a coast and winds blow its toxic aerosol onshore

Regional Evaluation Team [RET]

An interagency, interdisciplinary task team of the RECOVER Leadership Group that designs and revises performance measures, conducts evaluations of Comprehensive Plan components and resolves technical issues.

Regional Water Supply Plan

Detailed water supply plan developed by the District under Section 373.0361, F.S., providing an evaluation of available water supply and projected demands at the regional scale. The planning process anticipates and identifies future demand for 20 years and develops strategies to meet identified needs.

Regulation Schedule

A federally authorized set of operating criteria used by water managers to manage the water levels in a lake or reservoir.


An intentional opening up of water control structures to allow stored water to flow out to lower water stage to acceptable levels or to make available water for ecological, agricultural or urban water supply demand.

Release Zone

The zone representing water level differentiation determining the manner of release to be performed, such as pulse releases to simulate a storm or gates wide open; attempts to mimic natural estuarine mixing zones.


An artificially impounded body of water.

Reservoir Storage Capacity

Reservoir capacity normally usable for storage and regulation of reservoir inflows to meet established reservoir operating requirements (compare with flood control storage capacity).


The recovery of a natural system’s vitality and biological and hydrological integrity to the extent that the health and ecological functions are self-sustaining over time.

Restoration Coordination and Verification [RECOVER]

A program-level activity whose role is to organize and apply scientific and technical information in ways that are most effective in supporting the objectives of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP).

Restoration Objective Water Body

The major water body downstream of the project targeted for restoration benefits from the project.


The Central and South Florida Project Comprehensive Review Study, authorized by the Water Resources Development Act of 1992, that examined the Central and Southern Project of 1947 to determine the feasibility of modifying the project to restore the south Florida ecosystem and provide for other water-related needs of the region, and that resulted in The Final Integrated Feasibility Report and Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, which was transmitted to Congress on July 1, 1999.


The replacement of existing water fixtures, appliances and devices with more efficient fixtures, appliances and devices for the purpose of conservation.


The deliberate application of reclaimed water for a beneficial purpose. Criteria used to classify reuse projects are contained in Rule 62-610.810, F.A.C.

Reverse Osmosis (RO)

A membrane process for desalting water using applied pressure to drive the feedwater (source water) through a semi-permeable membrane.


Areas along or adjacent to a river or stream bank whose waters provide soil moisture significantly in excess of that otherwise available through local precipitation.

Risk Analysis

An evaluation of the feasibility or probability that the outcome of a project or policy will be the desired one; usually conducted to compare alternative scenarios, action plans or policies.

Rhodophyte Blooms

Another term for red drift algae blooms, a form of algae that creates unusual biomass concentrations. A newly released study suggests that improved management of freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee, combined with nutrient removal strategies within the Caloosahatchee River drainage basin, could help mitigate future outbreaks of harmful algae blooms such as red drift algae. Click here for details of the complete study.



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Saline Water or Saltwater Intrusion

This occurs when more dense saline water moves laterally inland from the seacoast, or moves vertically upward, to replace fresher water in an aquifer.


A community dominated by pinewoods with a thick understory of oaks and saw palmetto; occupies well-drained, nutrient-poor sandy soils.


Water that has a sodium chloride (salt) concentration equal to or greater than 19,000 milligrams per liter.


Water that escapes control through levees, canals or other holding or conveyance systems; natural seepage is the normal contribution to steam flows in dry season.

Semi-Confined Aquifer

A condition where the movement of groundwater is restricted sufficiently to cause differences in head between different depth zones of the aquifer during periods of heavy pumping; but, during periods of minimal pumping, the water levels recover to a level coincident with the water table.

Sheet Flow

Water movement as a broad front with a shallow, uniform depth.


A depression associated with swamps and marshlands as part of a bayou, inlet or backwater; contains areas of slightly deeper water and a slow current; can be thought of as the broad, shallow rivers of the Everglades.

South Florida Ecosystem

An area consisting of the lands and waters within the boundary of the South Florida Water Management District, including the built environment, the Everglades, the Florida Keys and the contiguous near-shore coastal waters of South Florida (also shown under Greater Everglades Ecosystem).

South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD)
The regional Florida agency whose mission is to manage and protect water resources in the southern half of the state covering 16 counties from Orlando to the Florida Keys and serving a population of 7.5 million residents; balances and improves water quality, flood control, natural systems and water supply; operates and maintains more than 2,600 miles of canals and levees, about 1,300 water control structures and 64 pump stations. In 1949, the Florida Legislature created the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control District, the predecessor to the SFWMD, to manage a huge project being designed and built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In 1972, with the Florida Water Resources Act (Chapter 373), the state created five water management districts, with expanded responsibilities for regional water resource management and environmental protection. In 1976, voters approved a constitutional amendment giving the districts the authority to levy property taxes to help fund these activities. All five of the state's water management districts' boundaries are determined by watersheds and other natural, hydrologic and geographic features. The South Florida Water Management District is the oldest and largest of the five districts.

Southwest Florida Watershed Council
The Southwest Florida Watershed Council is a grass-roots, multi-county coalition of individuals, organizations, agencies and businesses that have come together to address the issues affecting the Caloosahatchee and Big Cypress watersheds. The purpose of the Watershed Council is to ensure that the interests and concerns of all stakeholders are addressed and that long-term management strategies balance the needs of this region’s growth and the natural systems upon which our economy and quality of life depend.

To learn more about the goals of the Watershed Council, visit Membership is open to all. Any individual, group or business that wants to ensure that decisions affecting the watershed are based on the best science available and balance the needs of all stakeholders can visit Membership page for more information on how to join the Council.


An overflow structure of a dam.


Water level, measured as the height of a water surface above an established reference point.


Surface water resulting from rainfall that does not percolate into the ground or evaporate; commonly funneled through man-made works, ditches, canals and drains to receiving water bodies.

Stormwater Treatment Area [STA]

A human-constructed wetland area to treat urban and agricultural runoff water before it is discharged to natural areas; commonly developed after the Federal and State Clean Waters Acts, 1970-72.


A natural water course; an ephemeral stream flows briefly only in direct response to precipitation; an intermittent or seasonal stream is one that is on or in contact with the groundwater table and that flows only at certain times of the year when the groundwater table is high; a perennial stream flows continuously throughout the year.


The lowering of the soil level caused by shrinkage of organic layers. This shrinkage is due to desiccation, consolidation and biological conditions.

Surficial Aquifer

An aquifer that is closest to the surface and is unconfined; the water level of a surficial aquifer is typically associated with the groundwater table of an area.


The state of having met the needs of the present without endangering the ability of future generations to be able to meet their own needs.


A shallow depression in the land’s surface that may be filled with water.


A generally wet, wooded area where standing water occurs for at least part of the year.


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Water immediately downstream of a water control structure.

Threatened Species

Legal status afforded to plant or animal species that are likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of their range, as determined by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service.


The periodic variation in the surface level of the oceans and of bays, gulfs, inlets and estuaries caused by the gravitational attraction of the moon and the sun.


A detailed, precise description of a place or region; or the graphic representation of the surface features of a place or region on a map, indicating their relative positions and elevations.

Total Supply

Total water supply available to an area; surface water plus groundwater.


Allowing one aspect of a project to change, usually for the worse, in return for another aspect of the project getting better.


A property of an aquifer that defines the rate at which water moves through it.


Part of the life process of plants by which water vapor escapes from leaves and enters the atmosphere.

Treatment Wetlands

Constructed wetlands, known as stormwater treatment areas, to treat urban and agricultural runoff water before it is discharged to the natural areas throughout the system.


A stream feeding into a larger stream, canal or waterbody.


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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers [USACOE]
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers headquarters in Washington, D.C., creates policy and plans the future direction of all the Corps organizations. The Corps is organized geographically into eight divisions in the U.S. and 45 subordinate districts throughout the U.S., Asia and Europe. The districts oversee project offices throughout the world. Divisions and districts are defined by watershed boundaries, not by states. Lee County is under the South Atlantic Division (based in Atlanta), and specifically the Jacksonville District.


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Wastewater Reuse

Utilization of water whose source contains contaminates from human activities in a manner that prevents containments from spreading to other waterbodies.

Water Budget

An assessment of water resources and the cycle of use; an equation that balances receipts (rain and inflows) and disbursements (surface and ground outflows and evapotranspiration) with resultant changes in the savings (surface water body storage and groundwater storage).

Water Conservation Areas [WCAs]

Everglades marshland areas that were modified for use as storage to prevent flooding, to irrigate agriculture and recharge well fields and as input for agricultural and urban runoff. The Water Conservation Areas (WCA-1, WCA-2A, WCA-2B, WCA-3A and WCA-3B) comprise five surface water management basins in the Everglades; bounded by the Everglades Agricultural Area on the north and the Everglades National Park basin on the south, the WCAs are confined by levees and water control structures that regulate the inflows and outflows to each one of them. Restoration of more natural water levels and flows to the WCAs is a main objective of the CERP.

Water Preserve Areas [WPAs]

Multi-purpose water management areas planned between urban areas and the eastern Everglades that will be utilized to treat urban runoff, store water, reduce seepage and improve existing wetland areas.

Water Quality Objective

A statement of something that an alternative plan should be formulated and designed to accomplish in order to achieve a project purpose.

Water Resources Advisory Committee (WRAC)

An advisory body to the South Florida Water Management Governing Board and the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force that provides a forum for improving public participation and decision-making about water resource issues in south and central Florida.

Water Resources Development Act (WRDA)

Legislation that provides for the conservation and development of water and related resources and authorizes the Secretary of the Army to construct various projects for improvements to U.S. rivers and harbors and for other purposes deemed appropriate by the U.S. Congress and the President of the United States.

Water Supply/Environmental Regulation Schedule (WSE)

A federally authorized set of operating criteria used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, with input from the South Florida Water Management District, to manage the water levels in Lake Okeechobee. Water releases from Lake Okeechobee by the Corps to the estuaries are made in accordance with the WSE.

Water Table

In an aquifer, the upper surface of the zone of saturation under unconfined conditions; water in the rocks is at atmospheric pressure.


A region or area of land bounded peripherally by a water parting and draining ultimately to a specific watercourse or body of water; the land area that drains into a body of water. For example, Lake Okeechobee and the lands draining into the lake, as well as tributaries from which water leaves the lake, are part of the Lake Okeechobee Watershed.

Wet Season

Hydrologically, for south Florida, the months associated with a higher than average incident of rainfall – June through November.


Areas that are inundated or saturated by surface water or groundwater at a frequency and duration sufficient to support a prevalence of vegetative or aquatic life that requires saturated or seasonally saturated soil conditions for growth and reproduction.

Wildlife Corridor

A pathway used by animals to travel from one habitat arena to another.

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Related Links

Florida Department of Environmental Protection:

Lee County:

Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF):

More Links