The State of Florida and the South Florida Water Management District achieved another year of significant environmental restoration progress in 2009. The sound science, technologies and coordination behind the successes are detailed in this report.
In a major step that lays critical groundwork for Everglades restoration in the decades ahead, the SFWMD Governing Board and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved landmark partnership agreements, including a Master Agreement, that allow federally funded work to move forward on key Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan projects. With this umbrella accord in place, work can now fully utilize an infusion of congressional appropriations for project construction.
The State and the District also continue to pursue a historic opportunity to broaden Everglades restoration on a scale never before envisioned. The Governing Board approved a contract to acquire 73,000 acres of strategic lands to benefit the River of Grass, with options to purchase an additional 107,000 acres in the future. This pending acquisition has the very real potential to serve as a defining moment for America’s Everglades and South Florida’s environment.
Efforts to improve Everglades water quality also continue. The existing 45,000 acres of effective Stormwater Treatment Areas treated about 1.1 million acre-feet of runoff water in Water Year 2009. Since 1994, constructed wetlands and agricultural Best Management Practices have together prevented more than 3,200 metric tons of phosphorus from entering the Everglades. Construction on an additional 12,000 acres of valuable treatment marshes is under way.
We are seeing the results of restoration initiatives in the field as substantial progress was made on the Kissimmee River Restoration project to backfill an additional four miles of canal. In previously restored areas, plant and wildlife responses are meeting or exceeding expectations. In the Everglades, District scientists documented wading bird nesting four times higher in 2009 than in 2008 - the largest number recorded in more than 60 years and a strong indicator of an improving ecosystem.
It is with an eye on the future that we present this report on South Florida ecosystem restoration progress. We hope that it inspires you to share our commitment to environmental restoration.