U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, JACKSONVILLE DISTRICT
MIAMI, Fla. (Oct. 23, 2020) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District hosted a groundbreaking ceremony today for the Central Everglades Planning Project South, a project designed to restore more natural flows through the heart of the Everglades and improve water flows south to Everglades National Park.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis attended the ceremony and commended the Corps and its partners, and reaffirmed the state’s commitment to excellence and providing support for the project.
“Projects like this, along with many other projects surrounding Lake Okeechobee means millions of Floridians will see a big difference in water quality and serve future generations very well,” said DeSantis. “This is a great project and thank everyone for their efforts on this project.”
Col. Jason Kelly, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers South Atlantic Division Commander, emphasized the importance of the partnerships the Corps shares with other agencies and said this is a major step taken to construct the infrastructure that will improve the water quality, quantity, timing, and distribution of water flows to the Everglades.”
“We saw today a great example of partnership,” said Kelly. “From federal and state leaders, led by Gov. DeSantis, to Congressional members and local agencies.”
Col. Andrew Kelly, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District Commander talked how CEPP is a critical component of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. He explained that water will flow south into the Everglades, under Tamiami Trail bridges, and into Florida Bay, just one piece of the restoration puzzle, with additional projects coming online in the future.
“We are here as a testament of the importance of the project, but also more importantly as a reflection of the teamwork that was required to get us here,” said Kelly.
CEPP focuses restoration of more natural flows into and through the central and southern Everglades by filling in canals and removing levees to increase storage, treatment and conveyance of water south of Lake Okeechobee, and retain water within Everglades National Park.
The Corps awarded the Central Everglades Planning Project South Contract 1 for $40,502,895 to Kiewit Infrastructure South Co. from Omaha, Nebraska in September. The contract calls for the construction of culverts and a gap in the L-67A levee and backfilling an agricultural ditch just north of Tamiami Trail. Work on this project is expected to be complete by end of 2024.
The contract is the outcome of years of interagency planning and coordination with our partners at the South Florida Water Management District, stakeholders, and members of the public who have been collaborating to improve the quantity, quality, timing and distribution of water in south Florida.
“These partnerships are key components of these projects,” said Ryan Fisher, principal deputy assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works. This ceremony signifies the hard work and interagency collaboration that was necessary to award this first contract.”
He said ecosystem restoration is one of the top missions of the Civil Works program, and improving the distribution and flow of water to southern Florida is a priority for our office and this administration, with the assistance of the Water Subcabinet.
CEPP is designed to take water that is currently sent to tide through the estuaries and redirect it south to the Central Everglades, Everglades National Park and Florida Bay.
"Healthy coastal and marine ecosystems directly contribute to the strength of America's blue economy, so restoration projects like these are key to a thriving local community and overall nation," said Nicole LeBoeuf, Acting Director of NOAA's National Ocean Service. "NOAA's partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Everglades restoration results in better management of water flow essential to protecting downstream resources such as coral reefs and seagrass beds."
CEPP South is specifically designed to remove barriers to water flow in the southern portion of the project footprint, setting conditions to flow more water south.
Noah Valenstein, Secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, said they’re “doing all of this work to both stop discharges going out to the coast, but those discharges need to get down south where the park needs it or Florida Bay needs it.”
"The Florida Everglades are a national treasure, and we are excited to witness the collaborative progress that is being achieved in South Florida," said U.S. EPA Assistant Administrator for Water David Ross. "EPA will continue to work with the Water Subcabinet to support our local, state, tribal, and federal partners in restoring this amazing ecosystem while enjoying the many economic, recreational, cultural and environmental benefits it supports."
Today’s ceremony is the first of many, as current schedules call for awarding new contracts every year through 2025 to complete the overall CEPP project.
The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District on the district’s website at www.SAJ.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JacksonvilleDistrict and on Twitter athttp://www.twitter.com/JaxStrong
Read more about CEPP at www.saj.usace.army.mil/CEPP