Historically, the Grassy Waters area was part of the northern Everglades watershed and the headwaters of the Loxahatchee River. In the 1890’s, approximately 100 square miles was purchased by Henry Flagler to supply water to West Palm Beach and Palm Beach. In 1955, the City of West Palm Beach purchased what remained of that system.In 1964, the Florida Legislature recognized the area’s uniqueness and importance and created the Water Catchment Area affording 19 square miles special protection. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has designated Grassy Waters Class I waters, and the U.S. EPA identified portions of it as an Aquatic Resource of National Importance. Today the Water Catchment Area along with Apoxee Park and adjacent conservation lands make up Grassy Waters Preserve, an approximately 24 square mile natural area located in and owned by the City of West Palm Beach. It is the unique, principally rain fed, surface water system, that is the primary water supply for West Palm Beach, Palm Beach, South Palm Beach and parts of unincorporated Palm Beach County. The system currently serves over 110,000 customers and is projected to serve 144,000 by 2035. In addition, it is a critical component of the restoration of the designated wild and scenic Loxahatchee River. The Preserve remains a pristine remnant of the original Everglades ecosystem making up almost 50 percent of the land area of the City. It contains miles of hiking and biking trails, a boardwalk, and nature center where the City provides environmental education programs. In addition to its historical significance, key role in the regional water supply, and critical component in maintaining the water levels for environmentally sensitive areas, it is one of the largest areas of undisturbed wetlands in Palm Beach County. This allows the Preserve to provide valuable habitat for diverse fish and wetland dependent species; and it is a refuge for endangered or threatened species including the Bald Eagle, Florida Bonneted Bat, Wood Stork, Sandhill Crane, Eastern Indigo Snake, and of particular importance the Everglades Snail Kite. In 2014 the City designated Grassy Waters Conservancy the sole non-profit organization to support the Preserve, and renewed the agreement in 2019. The Conservancy’s founding partners were Nason, Yeager, Gerson, White & Lioce, P.A., Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) and City resident Steve Scherer. In 2015 the Conservancy received its tax-exempt 501(c)(3) designation. FPL continues to be a major partner of the Conservancy. The volunteer Conservancy organizations mission is to support, promote and protect the Preserve, for environmental education and research, and nature-based experiences, while ensuring its ecological integrity and role as a regional water supply. To achieve its mission the Conservancy raises funds from memberships, donations, and grants; and reaches out to local, regional and national organizations to collaborate and partner with on its activities. Current Conservancy activities include the Preserve summer camp program, internship and research opportunities, the annual photo contest, a photo group, and other educational and environmental programs and projects.
Grassy Waters Conservancy is the City of West Palm Beach approved, non-profit supporting Grassy Waters Preserve… the original northern Everglades.
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