U.S. Army Corps of Engineers participates in EvCo 2024 Improving Ecological Conditions in the Everglades

Jacksonville District
Published Feb. 2, 2024

Eva Velez speaking on a panel at the Everglades Coalition Conference in Florida.


Howie Gonzales, Jr. speaking on a panel at the Everglades Coalition Conference in Florida.


Michael Connor speaking on a panel at the Everglades Coalition Conference in Florida.

JACKSONVILLE, Florida (Feb. 2, 2024) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District delivered a record amount of water from Water Conservation Area (WCA) 3-A to Everglades National Park (ENP) in the past year. Surpassing expectations, the USACE successfully delivered over 1.4 million acre-feet of water, marking the third-highest volume since 2012, during a non-hurricane year.

That fact and more were evident at the 39th Annual Everglades Coalition Conference held Jan. 25-28, 2024, in Bonita Springs, Florida.

The Everglades Coalition is an alliance of local, state and national conservation and environmental organizations dedicated to restoration of the Everglades ecosystem. From the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes into Lake Okeechobee, through the River of Grass, out to Florida Bay and the Keys, many of the coalition organizations are partners with the Jacksonville District in advancing the restoration of America’s Everglades.

Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, Michael Connor was the keynote speaker on the second day of the conference. He discussed these tremendous partnerships, which are currently accelerating Florida's Everglades restoration, and talked about the huge investments in the Everglades from bipartisan infrastructure law and yearly budgets. “Great work is being accomplished, and we are committed to working with our partners to restore the Everglades, protect communities, naturalize the system, and build resilience,” Connor said.

Eva Velez, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District’s Ecosystems Branch Chief, participated in the Tale of Two Bays panel discussion on restoring Biscayne Bay and Florida Bay. Velez was very proud of the work that has been accomplished and very hopeful for the future, stressing the importance of improving ecological conditions for both Biscayne Bay and Florida Bay as part of the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration program.

Retired Col. Terrance "Rock" Salt was the 2024 Hall of Fame inductee. Salt led the Corps of Engineers effort toward Congressional Authorization and funding for the Kissimmee River Restoration project, setting the course for the start of Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.

Jacksonville District, Deputy District Engineer for Programs and Project Management Howie Gonzales, Jr. was a panelist for the Western Everglades: Threats and Opportunities panel where he talked about the Everglades restoration momentum and the importance of the Everglades Coalition Conference to spur action, citing the two key actions, which took place during the week regarding the Western Everglades Restoration Project (WERP).

“Earlier this week the Corps received approval for the scope, the additional time and additional funds to complete the study for the project moving forward. This a top agency priority. Additionally this week, with the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) we executed a pre-partnership planning agreement, which allows the SFWMD to design and construct new water features of WERP.

These water features will allow the water to transit from Water Conservation Area 3-A south,” Gonzalez said. For more information on WERP please see: https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/WERP/

Gonzales also took the opportunity to highlight Jacksonville District’s Integrated Delivery Schedule, which is the road map for all current and future work.

For more information please visit our website at:   https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/Environmental/Ecosystem-Restoration/Integrated-Delivery-Schedule/



Jeff Prater

Release no. 24-007