Superbowl VII vs XLII
Dolphins, Patriots battle in out in Battle of the Perfect Seasons
In 1973 — a year before the official birth of Big Cypress National Preserve — the Miami Dolphins put the finishing touches on an undefeated season by edging out the Washingtown Redskins 14-7 in Superbowl VII.

Thirty-five year’s later the New England Patriots have a chance to repeat that feat in this Sunday’s Superbowl XLII. But first they have to beat the New York Giants, no small feat, which, if they can do it, would put them at 19 wins for the season, one better than the Dolphins 17 wins (by merit of the modern era’s 16-game regular season).

Interestingly, Dolphin’s Quarterback Bob Griese sustained a broken ankle in Week 5 of the 1972 campaign, against the Chargers, but returned in time for the Superbowl. That could bode well for Tom Brady who is similarly nursing an ankle injury sustained while playing the very same Chargers franchise.

Is 19-0 better than 17-0 if it happens?

I’d say no. Undefeated is undefeated. Perfection cannot be Monday morning quarterbacked.

And if it doesn’t happen?

I’d also say that it’s still an achievement to knock so closely at the doorstep of history. But make no mistake, it would be a big disappointment/relief for Patriot/ Dolphin fans everywhere.

The Dolphins undefeated season unfolded during the waning years of the 1948 Central and South Florida (C&SF) Project.

The legacy of the project is all around us.

If you tour through the Everglades much of what you see — whether it be a configuration of a canal, orientation of a levee, or location of a water release structure — is a remnant of that project.

Its legacy looms large in south Florida.

Among other things, it resulted in channelization of the Kissimmee River, formation of the Water Conservation Areas, construction of the East Coast Perimeter Levee, delineation of the Everglades Agricultural Area, complete encirclement of Lake Okeechobee with the Herbert Hoover Dike (see figure below).

Water managers today live in the shadows of that project, and adjust the levers as best they can put, keep, and push the water in the right places, even if the water doesn’t always listen.

That’s what happened during construction of the so-called West Everglades Perimeter Levee back in the late 1960s.

The original plan was to build the L28 Levee continuously from the Tamiami Trail up to Lake Okeechobee, but that plan was foiled when engineers noticed that water from the Big Cypress, via Mullet Slough, flowed into the Everglades; and not the other way around.

That inspired a project re-design; leaving the so-called 7 Mile Gap in the middle of the L28 Levee — allowing waters from the pre-NPS eastern edge of the Big Cypress to continue flowing undeterred into the Everglades.

An excellent decision: today that area remains one of the most pristine tree-island intact pieces of the Everglades.

The C&SF Project was largely implemented in a 25-year span, from 1950 to 1975. A major thrust behind the project’s design was to put an end to the drainage-induced droughts (and wildfires) that plagued the Everlgades in the 1940s.

That was ironic considering it was marketed to Congress as a flood control project, in the wake of devestating hurricanes and floods that swept through Miami and Lake Okeechobee 1947 and 1948, with the now famous Weeping Cow Report.

In comparison, the Patriots bid for perfection has taken place almost a decade after 1999 Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP).

A major thrust of that plan is also to find ways to increase water storage in the system. That need is made all the more apparent by our recent descent into drought conditions: the last two years have been the driest consecutive years on record, Lake Okeechobee is at an all-time January low, and Everglades National Park is at a 17-year low, with respect to inflows and water levels.

Incidently, Lake Okeechobee is around 2.5 ft lower today than during the Dolphins run up to Superbowl VII.

Don’t forget to click into the data dashboard to view latest water levels and rainfall amounts in you neck of south Florida’s interconnected watersheds.

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