A historic project to increase flood protection and enhance water quality in the US Everglades has reached a key milestone: now clean water will flow south to the parched Southern Everglades and Florida Bay, and damaging discharge events from Lake Okeechobee to the east and west coasts will be reduced.
Construction of vital restoration upgrades to the Everglades has begun.
The Everglades dates back 5,000 years as a “river of grass” that flowed 60 miles wide. Teeming with wildlife like bats, flying squirrels, panthers, and alligators. Darkening the skies with flocks of birds. Rejuvenating with seasonal wildfires that roared across the landscape.
That is, until the early 1900s, when a new railroad brought a surge in human population growth, draining and diverting its vast water flow toward farms and cities, and subduing North America’s only subtropical wetland.
A few decades later, more than half the ecosystem was gone.
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The Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Storage Reservoir Project in southwest Palm Beach County will have many positive consequences:
- provide ecological benefits
- reduce harmful discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries
- send clean water to the Southern Everglades and Florida Bay
The project – expected to cost more than $1.8 billion – includes a combination of canals, stormwater treatment areas (STAs), and a storage reservoir anticipated to hold 240,000 acre-feet of water. The new STA is scheduled for completion in 2023, and the reservoir is expected to be complete in 2028.
The project is one component of the State of Florida and the federal government’s Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.
Legislators celebrating the announcement include Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
Following initial site preparation, the SFWMD will begin construction of a new 6,500-acre STA west of the reservoir with associated inflow/outflow canals and levees to connect the Miami and North New River Canals.
Future projects include additional conveyance capacity through enlargement of the Miami Canal and the North New River and a new 4,600-CFS inflow pump station to deliver water from the inflow canal to the reservoir and STA.
In the role of STA engineer of record, environmental engineering and construction firm Brown and Caldwell is providing geotechnical engineering, surveying, hydraulic and hydrogeologic modeling, and design of the new STA and its network of canals.
The design of the canals is a critical element of the project’s long-term success, so the company has expedited early canal construction commencement.
“We congratulate Governor DeSantis and the South Florida Water Management District on this important step and for their leadership, dedication, and foresight in maintaining and protecting South Florida’s natural water systems and wildlife habitats,” said Brown and Caldwell principal-in-charge Albert Perez.