We are pleased to report that our trip to Washington DC to attend the Lagoon-Gulf Action Day sponsored by Congressmen Curt Clawson and Patrick Murphy, and local meetings here in town the past week with Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, affirmed agreement and progress on the possible passage of a federal water bill this year. A water bill, known as the Water Resource and Reform Development Act (WRRDA) and funding for a key project in the bill, the Central Everglades Project (CEP), could be achieved if the bill is passed this year.
While this step is necessary to keep Everglades and estuary restoration moving forward, there is no immediate emergency plan to reduce the ongoing excessive releases the estuaries have suffered through the past five months. Ultimately, the solution is twofold: additional storage and an alternative outlet for water discharge from the lake.
There are two opportunities at hand the Governor can initiate that in no way affect passage of the WRRDA bill. We ask everyone to contact the Governor and urge him to immediately take these two critical actions.
- Immediately negotiate use of 16,000 acres of state-owned land currently leased to Florida Crystals for sugar cane production and use this land for emergency storage to relieve the estuaries of some of the excess water flow. Storage of three feet of water on the 16,000-acre A-2 parcel could redirect 13,441,246,000 gallons from discharging out the estuaries. The South Florida Water Management District owns the land in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) that will be eventually be used for a Flow Equalization Basin as part of the Central Everglades Project.
- Direct the SFWMD to accelerate planning for the EAA Storage project from its current start date in 2020 to this summer in conjunction with the Lake Okeechobee watershed Storage Planning effort. Following requests made at the SWFL Ecosystem Task Force meeting U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Assistant Secretary Jo-Ellen Darcy committed that she would agree to accelerate the project if the Governor would accelerate it. We can’t afford four years to begin planning. The time to begin is now.
If we want change, it is mandatory that we make some noise. The status quo will only change if we demand it. Please take a moment to use this pre-addressed form to send your own message to Governor Scott.