Dade County, Florida --
Following a review of public input, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District announces the decision on the Environmental Assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for a temporary deviation from the 2020 Combined Operational Plan (COP). The COP is a comprehensive, integrated Water Control Plan (WCP) for the southern portion of the Central & Southern Florida (C&SF) Project – including Water Conservation Area 3A (WCA-3A), Everglades National Park (ENP), and the South Dade Conveyance System (SDCS).
This temporary deviation will address the current water level concerns in WCA-3A and potential El Niño conditions in early 2024.
The Miccosukee Tribe of Indians, the South Florida Water Management District, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission provided correspondence between Oct. 11-16, requesting that the Corps consider a deviation from the COP WCP to take additional actions to lower water levels in WCA-3A. The Corps, in coordination with agency partners and with public input, developed the temporary deviation to allow the S-343A, S-343B, S-12A and S-12B structures to be open until the WCA-3A stage recedes below Zone A of its regulation schedule or Dec. 31, 2023, whichever occurs first.
This temporary deviation would also allow the Corps to open structures S-343A, S-343B, S-12A and S-12B for an additional 90 days, not necessarily consecutively, if water levels are in Zone A of the regulation schedule between Jan. 1, 2024 and July 14, 2024. This would allow the Corps to have additional capacity to manage water levels in WCA-3A during potential El Niño conditions in early 2024, which can bring more rain than normal during the winter and spring.
Under the COP WCP, the S-343A and S-343B are closed on October 1, and the S-12A and S-12B are closed by Nov. 1 and Dec. 1, respectively. These structures are allowed to reopen on July 14, pursuant to the COP WCP. The Corps may also reduce or end the temporary deviation prior to achieving the above criteria based on weather forecasts, the recession rate in WCA-3A, and C&SF system conditions.
The temporary deviation actions for the structures are provided in the EA Appendix A. The Corps has completed informal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure the temporary deviation can be implemented quickly to provide benefits to listed species in WCA-3A and minimize ecological impacts, while minimizing long-term effects to Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow habitat in subpopulation Ax.
The Corps appreciates the ongoing efforts of the public to stay informed and remain engaged in our projects. The feedback that we received from stakeholders and members of the public provides important local knowledge that informs our decision-making process.
The final WCA 3A documents have been posted and are already live. Please see: https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/About/Divisions-Offices/Planning/Environmental-Branch/Environmental-Documents/
Once on the page look under Multiple Counties, row 51.