Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan
WRDA authorizes $682.5 million project for Indian River Lagoon

In Florida, the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 authorizes three projects related to the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), a federal-state initiative, and one to dredge the Port of Miami’s harbor.

“It’s a milestone,” says Mark Perry, state co-chair of the Everglades Coalition, an alliance of 45 conservation and environmental organizations. “We’re excited in the environmental community. It starts the federal-state partnership. The state went forward and committed to the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. It’s now finally taking hold with a full partnership.”

The new measure’s Everglades authorizations include $682.5 million in federal funds toward the $1.3-billion Indian River Lagoon South project in Martin and St. Lucie County. It aims to reverse the damaging effects of pollution and large freshwater discharges that upset the delicate balance in the lagoon and estuary. The plan includes building four reservoirs and four stormwater treatment areas. It also would provide storage on 92,000 acres and removes 7.9 million cubic yards of muck from the St. Lucie River and Estuary.

WRDA also authorizes $187.7 million for the $375.3-million Picayune Strand project in Collier County, which will restore the natural hydrology of the 85-square-mile former Southern Golden Gate Estates subdivision.

The legislation provides half of the $80.8-million cost of the Site 1 Reservoir restoration on the Palm Beach-Broward county line, a project that seeks to capture and store excess water currently discharged to the Intracoastal Waterway.

Florida is to provide the other half of the funding for those three Everglades projects.

Perry of the Everglades Coalition says that in addition to CERP projects, the bill includes other jobs that will benefit the Everglades, such as improvements to the Herbert Hoover Dike at Lake Okeechobee and several water conservation projects.

In addition, the act authorizes $125 million toward the $2- billion Miami Harbor Phase III Dredging Project. “Its beyond a home run for the Port of Miami,” says Bill Johnson, port director. “It’s like winning the World Series. To say we’re happy, well, there are no words to describe how pleased we are.

The project will take the port’s depth from the existing 42 ft., to 50 ft., allowing the port to receive some of the largest cargo vessels in the world. This project, combined with other infrastructure initiatives, will enable the port to more than double its cargo capacity.