Everglades & South Florida Ecosystems Restoration Critical Restoration Projects (Overview) (C)

May 2023


Critical Projects: Overview

Construction (C)
Congressional Districts: 9, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28



The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 1996, Section 528, Everglades and South Florida (E&SF) Ecosystem Restoration, included authorization in paragraph 528(b)(3) for implementation of critical restoration projects. These critical projects are defined as providing immediate, independent, and substantial restoration benefits, being consistent with the Conceptual Plan of the Governor’s Commission for a Sustainable South Florida, having a local sponsor, and not being authorized components of the Central and Southern Florida Project. A total of $75 million was authorized with federal appropriations to be matched by local sponsors. The maximum federal expenditure on any one project was capped at $25 million. Five projects were cited as examples in the committee language accompanying WRDA 1996: L-28 Modifications, Tamiami Trail Culverts, Keys Carrying Capacity Study, East Coast Canal Structures, and Melaleuca Eradication.

Originally, 13 projects were considered under this authorization. It was recognized that the total estimated costs for all 13 projects under consideration would exceed the $75 million federal funding cap. Letter reports were prepared for each project and the various agencies worked in concert with the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Working Group, the Governor’s Commission on a Sustainable South Florida, and the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force to determine the final nine projects to move forward for completion: East Coast Canal Structures (C-4), Florida Keys Carrying Capacity Study, Seminole Big Cypress Water Conservation Plan, Lake Okeechobee Water Retention/Phosphorus Removal Areas, Ten Mile Creek, Western C-11 Water Quality Improvement, Lake Trafford, Southern Corkscrew Regional Watershed (CREW), and Western Tamiami Trail Culverts. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the Seminole Tribe of Florida (STOF) and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) agreed that the Seminole Big Cypress Project would receive 100% of its federal cost share because seven of the remaining projects were sponsored by the SFWMD.

WRDA 2007 authorized increasing the federal funding cap for all nine projects to $95 million and increased the Seminole Big Cypress project’s federal cap to $30 million.

Section 119 of HR3183 (FY10 Appropriations) raised the Ten Mile Creek project’s federal cap to $28.5 million.



Estimated Total Cost $249,700,000
Estimated Federal Cost $98,500,000
Allocation thru FY22 $89,942,000
Allocation for FY23 $0
President’s Budget FY24 $0


South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD)
3301 Gun Club Road
West Palm Beach, Florida 33406

Florida Department of Community Affairs
2555 Shumard Oak Boulevard
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2100

Seminole Tribe of Florida
6300 Stirling Road
Hollywood, Florida 33024



Cost estimates for the projects have increased over time due to inflation, unexpected site conditions, design modifications necessary to meet the project goals, and construction bids higher than those originally estimated. According to current USACE projections, the Critical Projects Program will not have sufficient authority to fund the full federal cost share with the SFWMD on Western Tamiami Trail Culverts, Southern CREW, and Lake Trafford projects. The SFWMD has proceeded with work on these projects with its own funding. The USACE is in the process of closing out the program.

EAST COAST CANAL STRUCTURES (C-4): Project completed. The project provides raised surface and ground water levels to prevent drainage of the Everglades and to reestablish natural hydroperiod patterns.

FLORIDA KEYS CARRYING CAPACITY STUDY (FKCCS): The project was completed in January 2003 after official compilation of review comments from the review committee. The purpose of the FKCCS was to develop the tools (e.g., Carrying Capacity Impact Assessment Model, Routine Planning Tool, Dead End Canal Module) to be used by the non-federal sponsor, the Florida Department of Community Affairs, Monroe County, and incorporated municipalities therein, to determine if and how their comprehensive development plans should be revised to ensure that any new development does not exceed the capacity of the county’s environment to accommodate additional impacts.

SEMINOLE BIG CYPRESS WATER CONSERVATION PLAN: In July 2003, STOF construction of the East Side Conveyance Canal System was completed. A USACE contract for construction of the Basin 1 features was awarded in September 2006 and completed in June 2008. Basin 1 was transferred to the sponsor in the second quarter of FY10. Basin 4 construction was completed in January 2013 and transferred to the sponsor in July 2013. The construction contract for Basin 2 was awarded in September 2013. Construction was completed in September 2016 and the basin was transferred to STOF in April 2017. Basin 3 cannot be completed due to the federal project funding cap of $30 million. The USACE and STOF executed a Project Cooperation Agreement (PCA) Amendment to remove Basin 3 from the federally authorized project. WRDA 2020 deauthorized this project.


Taylor Creek: The construction contract was complete in April 2006. The interim operational and testing phase was substantially complete in October 2008. Construction of the project, including repair of latent defects, was completed in August 2010. The project is currently functioning as intended and performing well in reducing the level of phosphorus in effluent waters discharging into the Everglades.

Nubbin Slough: Construction of the project was physically complete in 2006. Latent defects were discovered during the interim operational testing and monitoring phase and repaired in January 2010. Thereafter, the recurrence of extreme low-flow conditions in the intake basin halted the system operation. The intake pool was later repaired in FY 2012 to remedy the low-flow conditions. Additional latent defects were repaired, and the project was transferred to operation and maintenance phase in 2015. The project is currently functioning as intended and performing well in reducing the level of phosphorus in effluent waters discharging into the Everglades.


Project construction was completed in 2006, following which the interim operational testing and monitoring period began prior to project transfer to SFWMD. During this period, structural and operational concerns were identified. As a result, the transfer to SFWMD was halted, and USACE maintained control of the project. The project has remained in a passive operating state since 2009.

From December 2011 to March 2012, temporary limited operational testing of the reservoir was conducted for data collection purposes to support ongoing litigation between the designer-of-record and the Federal Government. Testing confirmed that the reservoir does not retain water due to identified deficiencies. All water was pumped out of the reservoir and back into the Ten Mile Creek, and the project was returned to a passive operating state.

The existing PCA provides for a federal expenditure limit of $25 million. The non-federal sponsor does not support further project expenditures. The 2009 Water and Energy Appropriations Act increased the federal funding cap by $3.5 million to complete a Post Authorization Change Report and to fund facility maintenance until 2013; however, no agreement was executed to utilize the extra authorization and appropriations.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 directed the Secretary to transfer the project to the SFWMD, and that upon transfer the project would be deauthorized. The Corps and SFWMD completed the agreement and transferred the project to the SFWMD in May 2016.

WESTERN C-11 WATER QUALITY IMPROVEMENT: Construction complete. The project implemented structural and operational modifications to the S-9 pump station and water management system to reduce pollutant loads to the Everglades.

LAKE TRAFFORD: The PCA was signed in January 2000. USACE Jacksonville District completed the plans and specifications in 2002, but because of limited federal funding authority, did not award the construction contract. SFWMD completed the dredging activities in two phases between 2003 and 2011. The SFWMD has completed construction on Lake Trafford. Unless the federal authority for the total of these projects ($95M) is raised, we will be unable to cost share on this project.

SOUTHERN CREW: The PCA for this project was signed in January 2000. The original goal was to acquire approximately 4,670 acres of land and reestablish historical sheet flow, hydroperiods, and wetland functions on the project lands, as well as enhancing hydroperiods to the larger Southern CREW to the east.  Other project benefits include reducing excessive freshwater discharges to Estero Bay, improving water quality to the Imperial River and Estero Bay, and improving habitat for fish and wildlife. SFWMD is nearing completion on land acquisition and is continuing design and construction using non-federal funds. According to the SFWMD, there is about $6M of construction remaining on this project. Unless the federal authority for the total of these projects ($95M) is raised, we will be unable to cost share on this project.

TAMIAMI TRAIL CULVERTS: USACE completed plans and specifications and SFWMD has constructed a portion of the culverts. Unless the federal authority for the total of these projects ($95M) is raised, we will be unable to cost share on this project.