A contract for construction of the Everglades Agricultural Area A-2 Reservoir will be awarded this calendar year following the April 22 signing of the Project Partnership Agreement between the State of Florida and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“With this (agreement) out of the way, we can move forward,” says Jim Yocum, USACE spokesman.

The agreement releases the Corps to begin construction on the 10,500-acre reservoir, its portion of the cost-shared $3.4-billion EAA Reservoir project. In February, the South Florida Water Management District, responsible for the 6,500-acre A-2 Stormwater Treatment Area that is paired with the reservoir, awarded the final contract for construction of the manmade wetland, which will naturally treat the water discharged from the reservoir before it flows south to the Everglades. STA completion is scheduled in 2023, reservoir completion in 2027.

State and federal officials and environmental groups all hailed the agreement. Florida has been plagued by toxic algal blooms on its east and west coasts because Lake Okeechobee receives nutrient-laden farm runoff and the Corps must discharge the lake’s untreated water when its elevation rises and threatens the dike that impounds it.

“Today marks a critical milestone for Everglades restoration and achieving our state’s long-term environmental goals,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who made expediting the EAA Reservoir Project a top priority. “Signing this agreement means we are another step closer to moving more clean water south through the Everglades and reducing harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries.”

Principal features of the reservoir construction will include a reservoir cutoff wall, in-out canals, a seepage canal around the reservoir and the inflow pump station. Scopes of work and sizes for the construction contracts have not been defined, but previously allocated funds are available for a contract award this year, Yocum says.

“Additional construction contracts will be needed to complete this massive civil works project as depicted in the 2020 Integrated Delivery Schedule,” Yocum adds. Stanley Consultants is assisting the Corps with design.