Lake Okeechobee Timeline

6,000 years ago — Lake Okeechobee forms

1500's — Tequesta, Mayaimi and Calusa tribes inhabit territory around Lake Okeechobee

1700's — Seminole tribe moves to the lake and calls it Okeechobee, which means big water

1837 — American troops discover Lake Okeechobee in territorial battle against the Seminoles

1839 — Federal Armed Occupation Act encourages Americans to settle Florida

1845 — Florida becomes a state

1881 — Hamilton Disston buys 4 million acres of land around Lake Okeechobee and begins to drain the land and connect the lake to the Caloosahatchee River

1905 — Gov. Napoleon Bonaparte Broward creates the Everglades Drainage District and vows to drain South Florida swamps.

1915 — first settlers arrive in Clewiston

1926 — hurricane kills 400 in Moore Haven

1928 — hurricane kills 2,000 to 3,000 in Belle Glade

1929 — Okeechobee Flood Control District forms

1930 — U.S. Army Corps of Engineers instructed to build a 68-mile levee on Lake Okeechobee's southern edge.

1947 — hurricanes cause major flooding south of Lake Okeechobee.

1948 — Central and Southern Florida Project for Flood Control and Other Purposes instructs the Army Corps to extend levee around the lake and to dredge and straighten the Caloosahatchee, Kissimmee and St. Lucie rivers for navigation.

1971 — Kissimmee River straightening complete

1975 — scientists begin to link blue-green algae blooms in Caloosahatchee River to phosphorus pollution coming from Lake Okeechobee

1986 — a gigantic blue-green algae bloom, fed by phosphorus pollution, slimes Lake Okeechobee

1988 — federal Government sues state and South Florida Water Management District for channeling polluted lake to Everglades National Park.

1992 — state and Federal government settle suit with a consent decree that instructs the state to reduce phosphorus pollution in Lake Okeechobee and to treat water before it enters the Everglades. Congress also instructs Army Corps to re-study the Central and Southern Project for Flood Control.

1994 — state Legislature passes the Everglades Forever Act

2000 — re-study results in 30-year, $8 billion Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan and Army Corps begins a new water regulation schedule meant to manage the lake at around 15 feet above sea level so that habitat can grow back

2001 — billions of gallons of lake water flushed to the estuaries to bring the lake level down, followed by record drought that dropped the lake to about 9 feet.

2004 — Hurricane rains muddy lake water and raise the water level to about 18 feet.

2005 — more hurricanes churn up the lake and keep water levels too high. More than 965 billion gallons of water flushed from lake to Caloosahatchee River.

2006 — estimated cost of the restoration climbs to $10.8 billion. Half the land needed for the project has been acquired.

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