All interested individuals, groups and agencies were given the opportunity to provide their input on the draft report for the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP), which is currently out for public review until October 15.
Five public meetings were held throughout south Florida Sept. 16-19 and Sept. 25 to discuss the draft report. Meeting attendants ranged from environmental, agricultural and recreational interest groups to high school students and local residents.
Many spoke in support of the project, which will set the foundation to move additional water south from Lake Okeechobee, while others expressed concern about the construction timeline and the need to send larger quantities of water to the Everglades.
“This is the first increment in a larger project,” said Eric Bush, chief of the Planning and Policy Division. “CEPP will provide the ability to move, on average, 210,000 acre-feet of water south from Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades. However, CEPP provides only an increment of system modifications, and the ability to move even larger quantities south is dependent on future restoration projects.”
The goal of the Central Everglades Planning Project is to capture water lost to tide and redirect the water flow south to restore the central and southern Everglades ecosystem and Florida Bay. The Corps is jointly conducting this planning effort with the South Florida Water Management District.
Construction of CEPP features is dependent on the completion of other projects, such as the Indian River Lagoon-South C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area, C-43 West Basin Storage Reservoir, and Broward County Water Preserve Areas. Additionally, construction of CEPP features is dependent on the completion of the state’s Restoration Strategies program, which is scheduled to be completed in approximately 2029.
Once fully constructed, CEPP will result in an average annual reduction in Lake Okeechobee releases of 24 percent to the St. Lucie Estuary and 23 percent reduction to the Caloosahatchee Estuary, when combined with benefits from the implementation of the C-43 Reservoir and the Indian River Lagoon-South system of reservoirs that reduce local basin runoff to the estuaries.
“Additional storage capacity within the system is key to sending larger quantities of water south,” said Bush. “The new features proposed under CEPP will allow the STAs to function more effectively and treat more water than can currently be treated with the existing infrastructure.”
The draft report, also known as the Draft Integrated Project Implementation Report (PIR) and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) became available for public review Aug. 28. Comments on the draft report will be accepted through Oct. 15, 2013.
The draft report is available online at: http://bit.ly/CEPP_DPIR. Comments may be submitted electronically to: CEPPcomments@usace.army.mil or mailed to:
Dr. Gretchen Ehlinger
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
P.O. Box 4970
Jacksonville, FL 32232-0019
Additional information on CEPP is available at: www.bit.ly/CentralEverglades_CEPP.