June 5, 2019

SFWMD Takes Major Step Forward in Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir Project, Accelerates Construction by 18 Months
District applies for permits to clear land for levee and intake canal work, nearing other milestones on project that will reduce damaging discharges to coastal estuaries and clean Southern Everglades-bound water

Click on the map to see a larger version showing where SFWMD is proposing to build an intake canal that will feed water to the Everglades Agricultural Area Storage Reservoir and associated A-2 Stormwater Treatment Area, reducing discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the coastal estuaries and increasing the flow of clean water to the Southern Everglades.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) continues expediting the construction of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir Project. The District has submitted permit applications to the Army Corps of Engineers and Florida Department of Environmental Protection to begin clearing land for the project. Implementing Governor DeSantis' "Achieving More Now For Florida's Environment" Executive Order, the District has aggressively accelerated the initiation of construction by 18 months.
 
"This is great. We are moving forward on this reservoir project at full speed under the direction of Gov. Ron DeSantis because it is a crucial component of the overall plan to restoring America's Everglades," said SFWMD Executive Director Drew Bartlett. "The permit applications are the latest major milestone that will get this project built and its benefits realized in the foreseeable future."

Late Tuesday, SFWMD applied to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Florida Department of Environmental Protection for permits to allow the District to clear a 700-foot-wide strip of land, encompassing about 690 acres on the site of the proposed EAA Reservoir Project. 

This work will prepare the land to build a canal and perimeter levee for the project's stormwater treatment area. The canal will feed water diverted from Lake Okeechobee through existing canals into the 240,000 acre-foot reservoir and stormwater treatment area. The proposed A-2 Stormwater Treatment Area will treat and cleanse water before it is sent to the Southern Everglades.  

The 690 acres needed is currently leased by the Florida Crystals Corporation for agricultural use. In  letters written to SFWMD, Florida Crystals committed to ensuring the District has access to leased land to expedite this critical restoration work. SFWMD appreciates this commitment to Everglades restoration a nd requested that Florida Crystals begin preparing to transition land the District.
 
The District expects to receive the permits and complete the preparation work for the levee and canal by the end of the year, allowing crews to start excavating the intake canal next year.  Once the levee, canal and STA are complete, SFWMD can use the STA to cleanse southbound water even before the reservoir itself is completed.   
 
"The residents of South Florida need and deserve the environmental benefits of this project. We are here to deliver this project as soon as possible," Bartlett added. "Every component of the EAA Reservoir Project is being expedited to restore and protect our natural water resources, and today's announcement is good news for Floridians."

About the EAA Storage Reservoir
SFWMD created the plan for the EAA Reservoir. Together with authorized projects, the EAA Reservoir will send an annual average of approximately 370,000 additional acre-feet of clean water south to the Southern Everglades that will be protected by rule or reservation to benefit the natural system. It will also reduce the number of damaging discharge events from Lake Okeechobee to the northern estuaries by 63 percent when used in conjunction with authorized projects.
 
Additional flows through the Southern Everglades that are proposed in the plan will be treated in the new 6,500-acre A-2 STA in combination with existing STAs and Flow Equalization Basins (FEBs), such as the A-1 FEB, to achieve state water quality standards. The reservoir will store 240,000 acre-feet of water on the site comprised of the District-owned A-2 parcel and lands to the west as identified in Senate Bill 10 (2017). The EAA Reservoir will work in conjunction with Restoration Strategies for a total of 350,000 acre-feet of storage south of Lake Okeechobee.
 
To read additional information related to the EAA Reservoir or for modeling data and more information on the previously held meetings, including agendas and presentations, visit  www.sfwmd.gov/eaareservoir.

Attachments:
Media Contact: 
Randy Smith |   rrsmith@sfwmd.gov    |  Office: (561)-682-6197 | Cell: 561-389-3386
The South Florida Water Management District is a regional governmental agency that manages the water resources in the southern part of the state. It is the oldest and largest of the state's five water management districts. Our mission is to  safeguard and restore South Florida's water resources and ecosystems, protect our communities from flooding, and meet the region's water needs while connecting with the public and stakeholders.

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