Wetland Scientist Questions Design of the EAA Reservoir Project
The Everglades Agricultural Area – or EAA – Reservoir was initially proposed as a component of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, or CERP, which was authorized by Congress in 2000. The reservoir, south of Lake Okeechobee, was planned to hold at least 240-thousand acre-feet of water, and include water quality features necessary to meet state and federal water quality standards.
In May of 2017, Governor Rick Scott signed legislation providing more than a billion dollars to increase water storage south of Lake Okeechobee as part of an effort to reduce harmful lake discharges to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries. This 'Water Resources Law of 2017' – commonly referred to as Senate Bill 10 – directed the expedited design and construction of the EAA Reservoir. In May of 2018 President Donald Trump signed a budget that included 200-million dollars for Everglades restoration, which includes the EAA Reservoir.
And then, Governor Ron DeSantis made expediting the completion of the EAA Storage Reservoir a key priority with one of his first executive orders, which instructed the South Florida Water Management District to start the next phase of design work on the project as quickly as possible.
Now, that project is moving forward, with a 10,100-acre reservoir that will be 23 feet deep, which will have a 65-hundred-acre storm water treatment area – or STA – associated with it. But, whether the size of that STA is adequate to clean the amount of water it’s going to be receiving is being called into question by Dr. Bill Mitsch, he is Director of Florida Gulf Coast University’s Everglades Wetland Research Park, and also an Eminent Scholar, and Juliet C. Sproul Chair for Southwest Florida Habitat Restoration and Management in the College of Arts and Science at FGCU. He joins us via Skype from South Korea to discuss his recent article published in the journal Ecological Engineering.
We also talk with Drew Bartlett, Executive Director of the SFWMD, to get the district's response to Dr. Mitsch's concerns. You can hear just that conversation here: