Understanding “Approved” vs. “Appropriated,” St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon


Approve and Appropriate. What’s the difference? Isn’t the government working on fixing the Everglades? (Public image.)



–officially agree to or accept as satisfactory:
“the budget was approved by Congress”
synonyms: accept · agree to · consent to



—-devote (money or assets) to a special purpose:
“Congress finally did appropriate money to the Everglades C-111 project after 15 years…”
synonyms: allocate · assign · allot · earmark · set aside · devote

Sometimes, when I finally “get” something, I cannot believe it took me so long to understand. This has certainly been the case over the past six years when it comes to money, and projects, to help save the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon as part of the Central Everglades Restoration Project— known as CERP. (http://www.evergladesplan.org/about/about_cerp_brief.aspx)


SAVE THE WATER; SAVE THE SLR/IRL and EVERGLADES! (Waterfest art, 2nd graders, City of Stuart 2013)
SAVE THE WATER; SAVE THE SLR/IRL and the EVERGLADES.  (Waterfest art, 2nd graders, City of Stuart 2013.)

Although the projects for CERP were “expected” to take 30 years, 15 years has passed, and not one of the projects is fully completed. The kids that made the poster above may be grandparents by the time a couple of the dozens or so projects, that are necessary to fix the Everglades SLR/IRL, are completed.

Today, I thought I’d share this post just in case you are a bit confused by this long time line, like me.

I think another aspect of difficulty in “understanding” all of this is that many projects are written about, and talked about, in the press,and by the state and federal agencies, as if they are “under way,” when they are really not, or its just  government officials arguing over projects that may never be.

As all things in life, understanding this “mess,” may help us to overcome it.

Today’s lesson:

So, there are two words you will often hear: 1.”approval” and 2. “appropriate.”

Just because something is “approved,” does not mean it is “appropriated,” because in the world of government, “appropriate” means GETTING THE MONEY TO DO THE WORK, and “approval” just means a bunch of people at one point agreed something is a good idea.

Just like in a small town, a commission may agree the town needs new street lights, and advertise this in their newsletter, but the commission  may never, over time, actually do what is necessary for the staff to buy the lights and get them installed–like giving the staff the money. This is complicated by election cycles every two, to four, to six years! New people may not agree with the previous monetary decisions that were “approved.”

Water and money....
Water and money….

Let’s apply this to the US and State Government:

In the year 2000, the US Congress “approved,” the Central Everglades Restoration Project to help fix the messed-up south Florida Everglades system that was created mostly in the 1950s and 60s after a big flood in 1947. Stakeholders celebrated at the time, that the “over drainage,” dying estuaries, and the drying up of the Everglades would be fixed, but this situation is still not fixed enough to make a huge difference….Also, all the people that were in Congress in 2000 are mostly gone, and there are different priorities now.

Nonetheless, today, the Army Corp of Engineers/South Florida Water Management’s shared website on CERP reads:

“The Plan was approved (by Congress) in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2000. It includes more than 60 elements, will take more than 30 years to construct and the current estimate in Oct 2007 dollars is $9.5 billion for projects ($11.9 overall including PLA and AAM).”

OK if you read this, you would think this might mean it was “approved” so it is going to, or is being done. This is not the case because the money needed to construct and complete these projects has not been APPROPRIATED (set aside.)

The streetlights were never purchased and put up!

The scenario becomes even more complex in some instances as the State of Florida may be bound by contract to also give money or “cost share.” And if the US Congress has not given their “approved” part yet, the State can’t really get going and give its part. Sometimes the State moves ahead anyway……

Anyway, so everybody is grumpy, and fighting, and it’s a big mess.

So the bigger question is after 15 years:

Even though we all have our hopes up that the US Congress will APPROPRIATE the money for the CERP project to help fix the Everglades and St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, and people worked very hard to achieve this we must think…

—-If we are true to ourselves, viewing history, we see a situation, like a bad relationship,  where someone promises you something, but never gives it to you…you keep hoping but it never happens….

—-Finally, after many years, you start to realize that although you have a “promise,” YOU ARE NEVER GOING TO GET IT!

(Or that it is unlikely anyway, or that you will be dead if you ever get it….)

Not a fun realization, but such is life…so do you stay in the relationship or break it off? Or maybe just become less dependent?

So here we are…..and there is some light now…

In closing…

Although the state of Florida cannot afford to fix the Everglades all by itself; it is too expensive, in the billions and billions of dollars. With the advent of Amendment 1 passing by 75%,  there may be some ability for Florida to do this.

But that is another blog, for tomorrow!


River Kidz Naia and Kiele Mader in front of the White House, 2013.)
River Kidz Naia and Kiele Mader in front of the White House, 2013.)


Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass, Option 1 is 46,800 acres and shown in brown. (SFWMD map, 2010)
Option Lands Map SFWMD; Purchasing optional lands would start the process of having enough land south of Lake Okeechobee to store, clean and convey water south. (SFWMD map, 2010)


CERP in depth, the project that may never actually occur, or will occur very, very, very slowly: ACOE/SFWMD (http://www.evergladesplan.org/about/rest_plan_pt_03.aspx) 

10 thoughts on “Understanding “Approved” vs. “Appropriated,” St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

  1. Good, Jacqui, but the word is “authorize” not approve,  although one can call authorize approval even though the funding comes later if at all. The actual funding is the appropriation.

    The use of approve, unfortunately, lets the phonies get headlines when they do not really proceed, as with WRDA,  supposedly on track 15 years ago.  Karl Wickstrom, Founder Florida Sportsman 2700 S. Kanner Hwy. Stuart, FL 34994 772-219-7400 ext. 118

    From: Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch To: kywickstrom@yahoo.com Sent: Monday, January 26, 2015 10:05 AM Subject: [New post] Understanding “Approved” vs. “Appropriated,” St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon #yiv4162161670 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv4162161670 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv4162161670 a.yiv4162161670primaryactionlink:link, #yiv4162161670 a.yiv4162161670primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv4162161670 a.yiv4162161670primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv4162161670 a.yiv4162161670primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv4162161670 WordPress.com | Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch posted: ” ” approve”VERB–officially agree to or accept as satisfactory: “the budget was approved by Congress” synonyms: accept · agree to · consent to”appropriate”VERB—-devote (money or assets) to a special purpose: “Congr” | |

    1. Karl thanks so much. I pondered the right word and could not pull it out of my head or pull it up on line, so I went with “approve” what we use in Sewall’s Point. AUTHORIZE was the word I was looking for!

  2. You are so right, Jacqui, and the only way to have any hope of securing the funding needed,
    since the numbers are so daunting, is to keep the pressure on our state and federal legislators. They must understand that Everglades restoration is, indeed, a priority among voters–even during those times that we don’t have a crisis in our back yard! The work you are doing with young people now, I’m convinced, is our last, best hope in ensuring that all projects will one day be completed.

  3. Sometimes I even think when they say appropriated that is hollow until I see a project completed. It is very frustrating. 🙂 looking forward to tomorrow’s blog . <3 Thank you Jacqui

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