The South Florida Water Management District issued a statement during Thursday's Governing Board meeting announcing it is moving forward with two major components of the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP), the congressionally approved plan to move more water south and into Everglades National Park and Florida Bay.
"We have the funds, we have the plan, what we don't have is time when it comes to protecting these valuable resources," said SFWMD Executive Director Ernie Marks. "As the state leader in Everglades restoration, this District must step up to protect the Everglades and complete components of CEPP that will ultimately send more water south to Florida Bay."
Marks briefed SFWMD Governing Board members at their regular monthly business meeting Thursday about the progress being made concerning CEPP's implementation. Marks announced the District will begin design of the new water control structure, which will be located next to the existing S-333 structure in western Miami-Dade County.
This additional structure will double the amount of water that can be moved south out of Water Conservation Area 3A into the L-29 Canal. Construction of this additional structure is expected to begin next year.
The District said heavy rainfall in 2017 has resulted in high water emergencies and wildlife endangerment concerns in SFWMD Moving Ahead of Schedule on Plan to Send More Water South due to limitations in moving water out of the existing flood control gates. This project component will expressly address that concern.
Marks also announced that the District will begin working with Florida Power and Light to expedite power-line relocation from Old Tamiami Trail. This is a crucial step in modifying the trail to remove barriers to flow. SFWMD would work with FPL to remove the power lines along nearly 6 miles of the former roadway, he said. Restoration efforts would then be able to modify the stretch of Old Tamiami Trail, which acts as a dam inhibiting the natural sheetflow of water from the conservation area south into Everglades National Park.
A nearly six-mile section of Old Tamiami Trail in Miami-Dade County will be removed. SFWMD will work closely with Florida Power and Light Co. to remove the power lines along the old roadway. The project will allow more sheetflow south into Everglades National Park.
Old Tamiami Trail. This is a crucial step in modifying the trail to remove barriers to flow. SFWMD would work with FPL to remove the power lines along nearly 6 miles of the former roadway. Restoration efforts would then be able to modify the stretch of Old Tamiami Trail, which acts as a dam inhibiting the natural sheetflow of water from the conservation area south into Everglades National Park.
"Along with bridging the Tamiami Trail, these two projects are essential to moving clean water south into Everglades National Park," said Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Noah Valenstein. "We're proud to partner with the District to accelerate yet another critical Everglades restoration project under the leadership of Governor Scott."
The Central Everglades Planning Project is a $1.9 billion slate of storage and conveyance projects on land already in public ownership south of Lake Okeechobee. The southern components of this plan will allow additional water to be directed south to Everglades National Park and Florida Bay and provide additional opportunity to reduce releases to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries. CEPP is congressionally authorized and awaiting funding. Other elements of CEPP include increasing southern storage, degrading sections of several levees, backfilling more than 13 miles of the Miami Canal and modifying the S-356 pump station to increase pumping capacity.