Federal Support Needed to Fully Implement CERP
In 2000, the U.S. Congress authorized the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) as a framework for restoring, protecting and preserving the greater Everglades ecosystem. CERP was envisioned as a 50-50 partnership between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the State of Florida, with the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) acting as the local sponsor on behalf of the state. Florida's funding commitment has far outpaced the federal government's in the 18 years since the plan was approved – and the gap is getting wider. As a result, none of the major project components described in CERP has been completed.
Florida has stepped up to provide consistent funding for restoration through the Legacy Florida Act (Laws of Florida, Chapter 2016-201) and the Water Resources Law of 2017 (Laws of Florida, Chapter 2017-10, Senate Bill 10) and through advancement of long-stalled projects. Utilizing funding from the Florida Legislature, SFWMD is building the Caloosahatchee (C-43) West Basin Storage Reservoir and has taken the lead on construction of components of the C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area. SFWMD also expedited planning for the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Storage Reservoir, which is awaiting authorization from Congress before it can proceed.
Despite the state's efforts, the anticipated benefits of CERP won't begin to be fully realized until the necessary federal funding for building critical restoration projects is appropriated.
On This Page
Below you will find:
- A comparison of state and federal spending to date on CERP
- A timeline for congressional authorization of the EAA Storage Reservoir and the federal appropriations process
- A look ahead at future funding commitments.
State vs. Federal Spending
Through June 2018, the State of Florida and SFWMD have invested more than $2.3 billion in CERP-related project design, engineering, construction and land acquisition. Federal funding has fallen behind by nearly $1 billion, while project costs continue to rise.
The charts below compare state and federal spending in total and on individual congressionally authorized CERP projects as of June 2018. Dollar figures for each project include actual spending on design, engineering, construction and real estate.
Congressional Authorization of EAA Storage Reservoir
At the direction of the Florida Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott, SFWMD submitted a proposed plan for the EAA Storage Reservoir for federal review in March 2018. Developed under an expedited schedule, the reservoir will increase storage, treatment and conveyance of water south of Lake Okeechobee to reduce damaging lake discharges to the northern estuaries while delivering clean water for Everglades restoration.
The Legislature envisioned the costs for the EAA Storage Reservoir – an original component of CERP – would be split equally with the federal government. However, the project is still waiting for congressional authorization and appropriations.
The timeline below shows how the state developed the reservoir plan, where the federal authorization process has been and where it's going. The timeline also includes a look ahead at how Congress appropriates funding for projects.
Future Funding Commitments
In 2016, the Legacy Florida Act was passed by the Florida Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott. The law commits $200 million in annual state funding over 20 years for planning, design, engineering and construction of Everglades restoration projects. A comparable source of dedicated funding does not exist on the federal level. Legacy Florida prioritizes CERP projects that will reduce the need for the Corps to discharge fresh water from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries for public safety.
With the passage of Senate Bill 10 a year later, the Legislature committed additional recurring funding for the state's share of the EAA Storage Reservoir project. As with all CERP projects, Congress would need to contribute funding for these projects to move forward.
The Integrated Delivery Schedule (IDS) provides a sequencing strategy for CERP projects based upon the assumption that both the state and federal governments will appropriate $200 million for the plan each year. The updated 2018 IDS confirms the slip of major Everglades restoration projects due to the lack of appropriate annual congressional funding.
The South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force brings together federal, state, tribal and local representatives to coordinate ecosystem restoration activities and research in South Florida. These documents provide more insight into state and federal funding for restoration projects:
- Cross-Cut Budget – Provides detailed budget information for federal and state agencies about Everglades ecosystem restoration projects and funding. The Cross-Cut Budget shows all the state and federal agencies on the Task Force and its Working Group.
- Integrated Financial Plan – Provides detailed information in the form of project sheets for more than 250 federal, state, tribal and local restoration projects that contribute to the accomplishment of the vision, goals, subgoals and objectives of the Task Force's strategy for the restoration of the South Florida ecosystem.