Progress is being made on the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir to the south of Lake Okeechobee in Florida. The project by the South Florida Water District and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is designed to rectify conditions that have led to the loss of seagrass beds on both the east and west coasts of the peninsula, as well as in Florida Bay.
The project has been championed by many environmental groups, as well as the Everglades Foundation (evergladesfoundation.org) and the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (bonefishtarpontrust.org.)
A deep above-ground reservoir, along with the features needed to meet state water quality standards, will be built on lands the state already owns, with the core being “A-2” parcel located between the Miami and North New River canals. It borders private agricultural land to the north, the “A-1” parcel to the east, the Miami Canal on the west, and the Holey Land Wildlife Management Area to the south. The Southwest Florida Water Management District will identify other state-owned land, as well as private property in the surrounding area, that could be purchased or swapped to achieve the optimal project configuration.
Preliminary project coast is estimated at $1.4 billion to be split by state and federal governments, as outlined in the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.
Project benefits are increased flow of water to Everglades National Park and the Florida Keys, while reducing damaging discharges into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers.