Lake Okeechobee is the nation’s second largest freshwater lake and the largest lake in Florida. It is the heart of the Kissimmee-Okeechobee-Everglades system. The lake provides drinking water for surrounding communities serves as a source of irrigation for a $1.5 billion-a-year agricultural industry that produces sugar cane, winter vegetables, citrus and rice. The lake also serves as a source of water for navigation, recreation and for estuaries. Before south Florida was settled, Lake Okeechobee water levels were controlled by natural conditions and events such as rainfall, runoff from the Kissimmee River, evaporation, and outflows south into the Everglades. As the population of south Florida grew and agricultural communities began to thrive, the State of Florida and the Army Corps of Engineers constructed an array of projects to control the lake’s elevation. In the end, the lake was surrounded by a massive earthen berm, the Herbert Hoover Dike.