February 8, 2018
West Palm Beach, FL – The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) at its Governing Board meeting today unveiled a cost-effective alternative that optimizes the benefits of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Storage Reservoir. SFWMD's team of modelers, professional engineers, scientists, planners and water managers worked to optimize the two best buy alternatives presented to the SFWMD Governing Board, Florida House Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee and Florida Senate Appropriations Committee in January.
"When Executive Director Ernie Marks presented reservoir alternatives to the Senate Committee on Appropriations last month, I encouraged the District to work harder to further reduce harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee that have done so much damage to our Caloosahatchee Estuary," said State Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers. "The plan released today moves us closer to that goal by reducing discharges by 40 percent. While there is still work to be done, I am proud of the work the state and the District are doing to move forward on projects that will continue to reduce harmful discharges to Southwest Florida."
Optimized Alternative C240A, unveiled to the public at SFWMD's Governing Board meeting in Orlando, borrows aspects of the previous five alternatives and combines them into a project that will meet one of the goals of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) by sending an annual average of approximately 300,000 more acre-feet of clean water south to the Everglades. The District is committed to delivering the environmental benefits of this project. The additional flows to the Everglades will be protected by rule or reservation and achieve state water quality standards to comply with state and federal laws. The project will also reduce the number of discharge events from Lake Okeechobee to the northern estuaries, when used in conjunction with authorized projects, by 63 percent.
"In 2017, the Florida Legislature very clearly told SFWMD they wanted a project that reduces the volume of damaging discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the northern estuaries while providing additional water storage, treatment and conveyance south to the Everglades," said SFWMD Governing Board Chairman Dan O'Keefe. "Water managers delivered that and more with this proposal. After the peer review is completed, SFWMD looks forward to delivering this beneficial project to the office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for the U.S. Army Civil Works to ensure federal partnership and congressional approval."