Tag Archives: CEPP— St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Hope on the Horizon, CEPP— St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Double rainbow over Atlantic Ocean, Jensen Beach, Hutchinson Island-- just on the other side of the Indian River Lagoon. Photo JTL, 2015.
Double rainbow over Atlantic Ocean, Jensen Beach, Hutchinson Island– just on the other side of the Indian River Lagoon. Photo JTL, 2015.

Hope (noun)
1.
“a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen”.
b. “grounds for believing that something good may happen.”
2.
archaic
“a feeling of trust.”

CEPP, ACOE
CEPP, ACOE

When looking at the water issues facing the St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon, it sometimes appears that we are doomed to an endless repetition of discharges from Lake Okeechobee and regional canals for ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren. We are not; we must have hope.

I am clearly aware that the Central Everglades Planning Project, (CEPP) will not alleviate all of the waters killing our rivers. In fact, from what  I think I understand, it will deal with about 250,000 acre feet of water of a needed at least 200 million.  US Sugar Corporation will probably quote 450 million. For me, the number is not the issue right now, the issue is getting started. By getting started, a groundwork is laid for “more” in the future.

Yes, I wish that the state of Florida had purchased the US Sugar option lands and we could have storage and a “flow way south” to the Everglades from Lake O of sorts,  but the state did not.  We must still fight for this concept, but also for CEPP.

As right now, CEPP is the only thing “on the books” to send water south and thus our only hope for “sending water south” in the future. The last time I wrote about CEPP I was furious because after all of the hard collective advocacy work to get it in the Water Resources Development Act of 2014, it did not make it. Well now we have another chance, and I have hope that it will.

To remind readers, CEPP is a “fast-track” portion of CERP. (Central Everglades Planning Project/ Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.) CEPP: (http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/Environmental/EcosystemRestoration/CentralEvergladesPlanningProject.aspx)

CERP:(http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Portals/44/docs/FactSheets/CERP_FS_March2015_revised.pdf)

CEPP was intensely reviewed across South Florida by many. It was led by environmental lead Dr Gretchen Ehlinger, ACOE/Jacksonville, and locally,  by West Palm Beach’s, project supervisor, Kim Taplin/ACOE. Both tirelessly worked this project. It was truly a miracle in itself that the project was fast tracked. As we know, government is the world of molasses and quicksand….

To review CEPP:

“The goal of the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) is to deliver a finalized plan, known as a Project Implementation Report (PIR), for a suite of restoration projects in the central Everglades to prepare for congressional authorization, as part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). The Central Everglades Planning Project will identify and plan for projects on land already in public ownership to allow more water to be directed south to the central Everglades, Everglades National Park and Florida Bay….”

(http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Media/NewsStories/tabid/6070/Article/479581/series-of-public-meetings-held-for-central-everglades-planning-project.aspx)

Dr. Gretchen Ehlinger, (second from right), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers environmental lead for CEPP,
Dr. Gretchen Ehlinger, (second from right), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers environmental lead for CEPP. Her office is in Jacksonville.  (ACOE website)
Kim Taplin is in the red shirt . Kim worked with stockholders in CEPP's review here in South Florida. (ACOE website)
Kim Taplin is in the red shirt . Kim worked with stakeholders in CEPP’s review here in South Florida. Her office is in West Palm Beach. (ACOE website)
Map CEPP component of CERP ACOE, 2009
Map CEPP component of CERP ACOE, 2009

On August 31st, 2015, something big happened. Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary to the Army, finally signed the “record of decision” for the project. Thank you.

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So now the project is approved to “move forward” by the Army Corp. The Final Integrated Project Implementation Report and Environmental Impact Statement has been “approved.” (Please read document above.) So what has to happen now?  A lot! The project has to become part of the next Water Resources Development Act, (WRDA), that moves through the US Congress only once every 2-7 years….

If CEPP becomes part of the next WRDA bill, then it would have funding to start with, then the funding has to be continued of course….as politics shift and sands sink and rise…. and yes, the project has to be built….and the water has to be there to flow!….Excruciating isn’t it?  But we are on our way. ——The business of hope is not for the weak of heart, it is for the strong.

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ACOE CERP review: (http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Portals/44/docs/FactSheets/CERP_FS_March2015_revised.pdf)

SFWMD: See Restoration Projects to review CERP: (http://www.evergladesrestoration.gov/#)