The Kissimmee Basin, also known as the Northern Lake Okeechobee Watershed, covers 4,100 square miles. Headwaters of its northern creeks reach into Orlando, an area crowded with tourists and new residents of the Sunshine State. The watershed continues south for 110 miles, ending at the Herbert Hoover Dike on Lake Okeechobee. The Kissimmee River emerges from Lake Kissimmee, well south of where almost all the area’s 1.1 million residents live and more than 50 million annual tourists play. Lands surrounding the Kissimmee River are almost exclusively wetlands and cattle pastures. Beyond its economic and ecological values, the primary significance of the Basin is its nutrient runoff effects on Lake Okeechobee and the rest of South Florida. Downstream are 10,000 square miles occupied by seven million residents who live compressed between sensitive marine coastlines and inland preserves, such as the Everglades National Park. The Kissimmee Basin faces threats from loss of wetlands and habitat, eutrophication of streams and lakes due to agricultural and urban nutrient runoff, and growth in the water supply needs of an exploding population. Kissimmee Waterkeeper will work to restore natural floodplain habitat and rehabilitate water quality to drinkable, fishable, and swimmable conditions.
Dr. John Capece is a native of Orlando, Florida. Since 1979 he has worked on hydrological issues of central and south Florida. Both his University of Florida Master’s thesis and Doctoral dissertation in agricultural engineering investigated the hydrology, water quality, and simulation of lands in the Kissimmee River Basin. In 1995 John helped found the Caloosahatchee River Citizens Association (Riverwatch). In 2015 he organized the group’s transition to a Waterkeeper Alliance Affiliate, and then in 2016 into Calusa Waterkeeper. In 2019 he returned his attention to interior Florida to establish Kissimmee Waterkeeper. In addition to technical research and advocacy, Dr. Capece has extensive experience in the education and nonprofit sectors. As a graduate student in the late 1980’s he created and led the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students and later in the early 1990’s the associated honor society, Alpha Epsilon Lambda, as well as an international student exchange organization—Intelligentsia International. Since 1999 Dr. Capece has hosted more than 500 university students from 68 nations for internships on technical and advocacy topics, many assigned to Waterkeeper and other environmental projects. Since 2015 he and his university student interns have organized workshops at the annual U.N. climate change conferences.
721 East Amelia Street
Orlando, Florida 32803