Heavy rainfall in May caused the water conservation areas to rise above their regulation schedules and Lake Okeechobee to rise quickly. As a result of this high water situation, SFWMD has been utilizing every available structure, as well as temporary pumps, to create capacity within the system for moving additional water south from Lake Okeechobee. This project component will go a long way to helping address high water emergencies in the future.
The SFWMD Governing Board also approved an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) that ensures SFWMD will receive cost-sharing credit for the money spent building the new structure. The District and USACE have a longstanding agreement to share the overall cost of Everglades restoration work on projects like CEPP. Until such time as water quality issues associated with the implementation of federal projects and federal regulation schedule changes are addressed, S-333N can only be used to move water south under emergency conditions.
The S-333N structure is one of two key components of CEPP that SFWMD has been working to expedite. The other project, the relocation of power lines along Old Tamiami Trail, will allow removal of the old road. The District is working with Florida Power and Light (FPL) to expedite this relocation
and remove 6 miles of power lines along the former roadway. Restoration efforts would then remove 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 6-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. Click on the image to see a larger version.
The Central Everglades Planning Project is a group 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.
"S-333N is just the first step to addressing high water issues. This Board, along with our federal partners, must keep this momentum going," continued Fernandez. "To see the benefits of system storage, there needs to be a focus on southern flow features, including seepage management and critical expansion of the S-356 pump station, while also resolving outdated water quality formulas that stand in the way of restoration. When people say 'send the water south,' these are the items that must be addressed to make that happen."