Progress on a controversial reservoir intended to help clean South Florida waterways can now be followed via an interactive map provided by the South Florida Water Management District. The website outlines where the reservoir — about 18,000-acres — will be located within the Everglades Agricultural Area south of Lake Okeechobee. So far, water management officials have targeted 3,200 acres of land owned by the district for the reservoir. Another 500 acres of privately owned land has been identified for acquisition, according to the district. “SFWMD has already contacted the private landowners to express interest in acquiring their property,” the district said in a press release. The website will also be used to highlight milestones in the progress of the work. The reservoir, a priority of Senate President Joe Negron, was part of a bill (SB 10) signed in May by Gov. Rick Scott. The measure allows the state to bond up to $800 million for the reservoir, which is aimed at reducing the recurrence of toxic algae outbreaks that have impacted waterways in Negron’s Treasure Coast district and the Caloosahatchee River in Southwest Florida. Treasure Coast residents blame polluted water releases from the lake for the algae outbreaks. To make the proposal more acceptable to farmers, residents, and politicians south of the lake, Negron, R-Stuart, revised his original plan. The bill, which anticipates that the federal government will agree to pay half the costs for the reservoir, caps annual state funding for the project at $64 million.
from South Florida Water Management District
New Web Page Tracks Progress
of Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir Project
Page allows taxpayers to see status of 240,000 acre-foot reservoir
south of Lake Okeechobee
The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) launched a new webpage, featuring an interactive map and milestone tracker to allow the public to follow the progress of the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee.
“This project was approved by the Florida Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott, as part of an effort to reduce harmful Lake Okeechobee discharges to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries,” said SFWMD Governing Board Chairman Dan O’Keefe. “This new web page allows citizens to see how their tax dollars are being spent on this project, as well as track the progress of this reservoir.”
The Water Resources Law of 2017 — Senate Bill 10 — calls for SFWMD to construct a reservoir that can hold 240,000 acre-feet of water on about 18,000 acres of state-owned land in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) south of the lake. This property was originally purchased with the intention of building a shallow Flow Equalization Basin (FEB), which would have been known as the A-2 FEB.
The project was included in the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, as well as Central Everglades Planning Project to improve the conveyance of water south from the lake to Everglades National Park. Instead, the land will now be used to build the much deeper 240,000 acre-foot reservoir. The EAA Reservoir is intended to help reduce damaging estuary discharges from the lake.
The web page displays to the public where the reservoir will be located, what steps required by the Legislature have already been completed and what key points remain. To date, SFWMD has identified the approximately 3,200 acres of land it owns (currently leasing to private entities) that would be used for the project and about 500 acres of privately owned land that would need to be acquired. SFWMD has already contacted the private landowners to express interest in acquiring their property.
By July 1, SFWMD will take the next step by sending a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requesting that the Corps develop with SFWMD a “Post Authorization Change Report” to the project for approval by the U.S. Congress. This is necessary since the land was originally slated to be used as part of the Congressionally-approved Central Everglades Planning Project.
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