JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The importance of aligning priorities and maintaining momentum were key discussion points for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers leadership who spoke about ongoing efforts to restore America’s Everglades during the 32nd Annual Everglades Coalition Conference in Fort Myers, Florida Jan. 5-8, 2017.
“I implore all of you to continue to advocate for, and continue to share the Everglades story. A story of hope,” said Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy, who served as a keynote speaker at the conference Jan. 6.
The theme of this year’s conference was “Three Estuaries, One Solution” with a focus on the need to flow additional water south. Representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers participated in multiple sessions to discuss ongoing restoration efforts aimed at getting the water right in south Florida.
“None of the implementing agencies can accomplish restoration by acting alone,” said Brig. Gen. C. David Turner, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers South Atlantic Division Commanding General, during a panel Jan. 6. “We will continue to work alongside our primary cost-share partner, the South Florida Water Management District, to maximize use of federal and state resources to deliver on-the-ground benefits.”
Restoring a complex, interconnected system
Every incremental success in Everglades restoration complements the overall efforts to improve 2.4 million acres of south Florida’s ecosystem (including Everglades National Park), reduce high-volume discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the estuaries, improve water deliveries to Florida and Biscayne bays, and enhance water supply. Currently, the majority of the Corps’ ongoing restoration projects are either under construction or have completed components.
“We need to address the entire Everglades ecosystem as a whole. I look forward to working alongside our partnering agencies to continue these efforts,” said Col. Jason Kirk, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District Commander during a panel Jan. 6.
Storage: A key component of restoration efforts
Storage is a critical component of the Everglades restoration efforts, requiring storage north, south, east and west of Lake Okeechobee. The Corps, in partnership with the South Florida Water Management District, are currently in the process of constructing storage east of the lake with the C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area project and west of the lake with the C-43 Reservoir project. Additionally, planning efforts are currently underway for storage north of the lake with the Lake Okeechobee Watershed project and southwest of the lake with the Western Everglades Restoration project.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District Senior Program Manager Kim Taplin discussed the Western Everglades Restoration project at the conference Jan.7. “Restoration of the Western Everglades is needed for restoration efforts to be successful," said Taplin.
Central Everglades Planning Project: Setting conditions to send water south
There was much enthusiasm at the conference about the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) receiving congressional authorization in the 2016 Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act. Congressional authorization now makes the project eligible to receive funding in a future appropriations bill.
The Central Everglades Planning Project will put the necessary conveyance features in place that will physically enable water to flow south. This will enable future projects, such as the EAA Storage Reservoir, to not just store water, but have a way to send it south.
Integrated Delivery Schedule: The Everglades restoration roadmap
Storage south of the lake is an important component of Everglades restoration and is recognized in the Integrated Delivery Schedule, which includes the EAA Reservoir project scheduled to begin in 2021. The Integrated Delivery Schedule is a living document that serves as the Everglades restoration roadmap.
“The Integrated Delivery Schedule aligns priorities with our partners, moving restoration forward," said Lt. Col. Jennifer Reynolds, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District Deputy District Commander for South Florida during a panel Jan. 6. The quicker that ongoing projects are completed, the quicker additional projects identified in the Integrated Delivery Schedule can begin.
“Nothing about Everglades restoration is easy or straight-forward,” Brig. Gen. Turner stated during his panel remarks about the Integrated Delivery Schedule. “The Corps will continue to work closely with our state and federal partners to assess whether adjustments are needed to planned restoration work to accomplish our collective restoration goals. The Army remains flexible in our willingness to look at adjustments to the schedule when they make sense and when funding is available to support the actions."
Learn more about the Corps’ Everglades restoration efforts at: