The Congressionally-authorized purpose of the CEPP South Project is to construct infrastructure for later operations to improve the quantity, quality, timing, and distribution of water flows to the Northern Estuaries, Central Everglades (Water Conservation Area 3 (WCA-)3 and Everglades National Park [ENP]), and Florida Bay to aid in restoring pre-drainage vegetative communities and habitat for fish and wildlife.
The Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) was authorized by Section 1401(4)1 of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016, Public Law 114-322.
The project area for the overall CEPP project identified in the 2014 CEPP Final PIR/EIS (Corps 2014) encompasses the Northern Estuaries (St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon and the Caloosahatchee River and Estuary), Lake Okeechobee, a portion of the EAA, the Water Conservation Areas (WCAs), Everglades National Park (ENP), the Southern Estuaries (Florida Bay and Biscayne Bay), and the Lower East Coast (LEC).
The CEPP included features broken into three phases: South, North, and New Water. The purpose of CEPP as identified in the 2014 CEPP Final PIR/EIS is to improve the quantity, quality, timing and distribution of water flows to the Northern Estuaries (St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee), central Everglades (WCA 3 and ENP), and Florida Bay while increasing water supply for municipal and agricultural users (USACE 2014). Due to the size and complexity of CEPP, project implementation will involve phases of multi-year construction through individual project partnership agreements (PPAs) or amendments to existing PPAs between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD). Phased implementation efforts maximize the opportunity to realize incremental restoration benefits by initially building features that utilize existing water in the system that meets state water quality standards. The 2014 CEPP Final PIR/EIS is available at: https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/Environmental/Ecosystem-Restoration/Central-Everglades-Planning-Project/.
Components of the CEPP recommended plan were grouped into separate implementation phases within the 2014 CEPP Final PIR/EIS based upon the spatial distribution of the recommended plan features and the locations within the CEPP project area where separable hydrologic environmental benefits would accrue. As described in the 2014 CEPP Final PIR/EIS, these groupings included project features in northern WCA 3A (CEPP North), project features in southern WCA 3A, WCA 3B and ENP (CEPP South), and project features that provide new water and required seepage management that benefits the entirety of the project area (CEPP New Water).
The specific features of the 2016 CEPP Authorized Plan to be implemented in South phase include conveyance features that function to deliver and re-distribute existing water and the additional water that will be provided by the CEPP New Water component from WCA 3A to WCA 3B, ENP and Florida Bay. Construction of features in CEPP South were identified to prepare the system for the future additional inflows from Lake Okeechobee by providing the necessary additional outlet capacity from WCA 3A. As the first phase of CEPP, CEPP South features would begin to reestablish the historical hydrologic connectivity of WCA 3A, WCA 3B, and ENP.