Florida's Green Swamp plays crucial role in state's waterways

Say “swamp” and you probably think mosquitoes, alligators and muck, or maybe University of Florida football.

But Florida’s Green Swamp is is an area of ecological and hydrologic importance, and is crucial to the maintenance of our drinking water. FOX 13’s Drone Zone gives us an aerial view of its health and history.

The Green Swamp is actually the headwaters for four major river systems in Florida -- the Peace River, Withlacoochee River, Ocklawaha River, and Hillsborough River. 

It has the highest Florida aquifer levels, which is the main source of drinking water in the state.

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s chief engineer, Dr. Mark Fulkerson said the Green Swamp is crucial to how the land and water interact, especially during periods of heavy rain.

“It helps store floodwaters, it releases them slowly. The natural state of the Green Swamp also helps clean water that flows to those river systems and to the aquafer, so it helps filter the water and improve the water quality,” he explained.

The Green Swamp is also an area that’s open to the public. Fulkerson said access to the area helps build an appreciation for the natural beauty and importance of preserving the land.

florida green swamp trails

The Green Swamp is located west of Highway 27 and east of Interstate 75 in Polk, Lake, Sumter, Hernando and Pasco counties.

Learn more at https://www.swfwmd.state.fl.us/recreation/green-swamp-wilderness-preserve.