EAA Reservoir Work Begins

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South Florida Water News

This week Governor Ron DeSantis, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced that site work for the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir has begun following the recent acquisition of the required federal permit. SFWMD is currently working on the project’s wetland component, known as a Stormwater Treatment Area (STA) of the EAA Reservoir Project.

The EAA Reservoir Project is one of the most important Everglades restoration project, providing ecological benefits, reducing harmful discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries and sending more clean water south to the Everglades. The project is expected to benefit both the environment and economy. The entire project is expected to cost more than $1.8 billion, creating hundreds of jobs and boosting the local economies south of Lake Okeechobee.

After initial site preparation, SFWMD will begin construction of canals and berms for the STA in coming months.

“We did it. I’m proud that work has begun on the EAA Reservoir Project. Its benefits to our Estuaries and the Everglades are finally within sight,” said Chauncy Goss, SFWMD Chairman. “Thanks to the leadership of Governor DeSantis, support from the Florida Legislature and the dedication of the SFWMD Governing Board, we are starting this critical project 12 months early.”

Site preparation work begins for the Stormwater Treatment Area of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir. Photo courtesy of SFWMD.

“Now more than ever we are seeing the importance of clean water for our economy and way of life,” said Captain Daniel Andrews, Executive Director of Captains for Clean Water. “The EAA Reservoir and STA have been held up for far too long. This project will allow more clean water to flow south where it is desperately needed in Florida Bay, and alleviate harmful toxic discharges to the coasts.”

“The EAA Storage Reservoir and STA Project remains the single most important Everglades restoration initiative awaiting construction. With this permit, the STA piece of the project will increase our capacity to both clean water and allow it to flow south into a parched Everglades National Park and Florida Bay,” said Audubon Florida’s Executive Director Julie Wraithmell. “It has been incredibly dry, and the timing of this permit approval is perfect. Moving water south ensures we are replenishing our aquifers. We need that freshwater for the sake of the bay, the park, and for South Florida families.”

The EAA Reservoir Project is a joint Everglades restoration project between the South Florida Water Management District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. SFWMD is building the water-cleansing Stormwater Treatment Area, which is expected to be complete in 2023. The U.S. Army Corps will build the 10,000-acre storage reservoir, which is expected to be complete in 2028.

Water Rule Workshops Offered

The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) will host three online workshops regarding the Northern Everglades and Estuaries Water Quality Rule, as required by the Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program. That program calls for the SFWMD to work with the Florida Departments of Environmental Protection and Agriculture & Consumer Sciences to reduce pollutants and improve water quality standards in Lake Okeechobee, St. Lucie River and Caloosahatchee River watersheds through Basin Management Action Plans (BMAP) and The Total Maximum Daily Loads program.

State law adopted in 2016 directs the SFWMD to revise Rule 40E-61 and stakeholders and the public are invited to participate in a second round of public rulemaking workshops to update the rule. Draft rule information is available online at SFWMD.gov/Rules (under “Amendments to Chapter 40E-61, F.A.C., Works of the District Basins”).

These workshops will be held online using Zoom. The same workshop will be offered at three different times: May 19 at 1:30pm; May 21 at 5:30pm and June 3 at 10am. Registration for the workshops is available at SFWMD.gov/Rules

If you are new to using Zoom, you can learn more about attending a Zoom meeting and even run a test on your computer, tablet or smart phone.

Information provided by the South Florida Water Management District.