At the request of the Florida and US government, the Army Corps of Engineers channelized the Kissimmee River between 1962 and 1970 to improve flooding that had specifically occurred in 1947. Almost immediately this channelization was recognized as problematic to Lake Okeechobee and the estuaries. In 1997 Congess approved efforts to restore parts of the Kissimmee to its natural design.
With ranch, agricultural and other land purchases that were made in the former flood plains, restoration is/was complex and difficult. Nonetheless the ACOE has completed an approximate twenty mile restoration. This is one of the few great accomplishments made so far to improve the misjudgments of the Central and South Florida Flood Project of 1948.(http://www.evergladesplan.org/about/restudy_csf_devel.aspx)
The problem with the Kissimmee was that it was straightened, let’s try to simplify what has led to the destruction/problems of the Indian River Lagoon by listing what has led to its poor health:
too much shoreline development, building the C-44 canal from Lake Okeechobee to the St Lucie a River, diking Lake Okeechobee, channelizing the creeks that are now the C-23 and C-24 canals, the channelizing of the Kissimmee River, dredging a channel in the lagoon and St Lucie River, runoff from agriculture and urban development that runs into the lagoon, automobiles and the thousands of Department of Transportation canals that also lead to lagoon, causeways that block the flow of water in the lagoon, marinas and boat traffic, fishing line and trash left to harm wildlife, rains that may carry mercury and other pollutants from thousands of miles away, inlets that have been dug and made permanent or at least not allowing the ocean to break through when and where it desired as it did for tens of thousands of years, the invention of synthetic fertilizer and septic tanks, suburbia, herbicides and pesticides and even laundry detergent, drugs and antibiotics that many of us take that seep into the waters of the lagoons causing disfunction to animal life like antibiotic resistant dolphins, (http://www.cehaweb.com/documents/2_000.pdf) the list goes on…
Fixing the Indian a River Lagoon is actually more historic and multilayered than fixing the Kissimmee River. Thankfully we know we have the will to make our government and to make ourselves fix it.