Tag Archives: CEPP

Deadlines for EAA Reservoir and SB10, SLR/IRL

Aerials of A-1/A-2 region of the EAA, JTL/EL 2017
The following is a handout Mark Perry of Florida Oceanographic passed out yesterday at the Rivers Coalition meeting. It is created by John Ullman of the Florida Sierra Club and gives clear presentation on what is necessary for the EAA Reservoir and SB10’s success. I am reprinting here as a resource and reference. Getting the legislation passed for Senate Bil 10 was just the beginning. As we know, for the reservoir to come to fruition we must be diligent over the coming years.
Notice the July 1st, 2017 deadline for the SFWMD to”request that the US Army Corps jointly develop a post-authorization change report for the Central Everglades Planning Project to revise the A-2 parcel element of the project.”
Relationships with the District continue to be strained; a nice phone call or email to Executive Director Peter Antonacci or board member would prove helpful. We must rebuild relationships for future success. We all do have a common goal, clean water for Florida.

http://my.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xweb%20about%20us/executive%20management

SIERRA CLUB, FLORIDA’S SB10 Blog-by John Ullman
SB10, Important Deadlines:

By July 1, 2017 SFWMD must request that the US Army Corps jointly develop a post-authorization change report for the Central Everglades Planning Project to revise the A-2 parcel element of the project.

By July 31, 2017, SFWMD must contact the lessors and landowners of 3,200 acres of state-owned land and 500 acres of privately-owned land just west of the A-2 parcel. SFWMD must express interest in acquiring this land through purchase, exchange, or terminating leases.

If the US Army Corps agrees to begin developing the post-authorization report, work on the report must begin by August 1, 2017.

SFWMD must report the status of the post-authorization change report to Fla Legislature by January 9, 2018.

SFWMD and Corps must submit the post-authorization change report to Congress by October 1, 2018.*

The House passed the measure with a 99-19 vote; the Senate passed it 33-0.

The Governor signed SB 10 into law on May 9, 2017

Details of SB 10:

• Accelerates the state’s 20-year goal of storing water south of Lake Okeechobee.

• Requires SFWMD to develop a project plan for an Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir that provides at least 240,000 acre-feet (about 78 billion gallons) of water storage by utilizing the A-2 parcel (14,000 acres of state-owned land), land swaps, early termination of leases, and land acquisition.

• Provides for at least two-thirds of the water storage capacity of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) Component G.

• Allows the A-1 parcel to remain a Flow Equalization Basin (FEB) as provided for in the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP), or to be utilized for the EAA Reservoir if SFWMD can provide for at least 360,000 acre-feet of water storage.

• Requires SFWMD to include increased canal conveyance improvements, if needed, and features to meet water quality standards in the EAA Reservoir project.

• Provides deadlines for submitting the plan to Congress as a post-authorization change report, which will seek approval of the use of the A-2 parcel in a different manner than was authorized in CEPP.

• If the Corps has not approved the post-authorization change report and submitted it to Congress by October 1, 2018 or the post-authorization change report is not approved by Congress by December 31, 2019, SFWMD must request the Corps to develop a project implementation report for the EAA Reservoir Project located somewhere else.

• Prohibits the use of eminent domain to obtain privately held land.

• Provides for termination of the U.S. Sugar option agreement prior to the October 2020 expiration date if the post-authorization change report receives congressional approval or SFWMD certifies to the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House that acquisition of the land necessary for the EAA reservoir project has been completed.

• Authorizes the use of Florida Forever bonds in an amount of up to $800 million for the costs of land acquisition, planning and construction of the EAA reservoir project.

• Appropriates $30 million from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund (LATF) to the Everglades Trust Fund, in the 2017-18 fiscal year, for the purposes of acquiring land or negotiating leases to implement or for planning or construction of the Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir project.

• Appropriates $3 million from the LATF to the Everglades Trust Fund in the 2017-18 fiscal year for the development of the CEPP post-authorization change report.

• Amends the LATF distribution to include $64 million of additional funding for the EAA reservoir project.

• Appropriates $30 million from the General Revenue Trust Fund to the Water Protection and Sustainability Program Trust Fund to provide a loan for implementation of Phase I of the C-51 reservoir project.

• Appropriates $1 million from the LATF to the Everglades Trust Fund in the 2017-18 fiscal year for the purpose of negotiating Phase II of the C-51 reservoir and provides the LATF as a potential funding source for the implementation of Phase II of the C-51 reservoir.

• Creates the water storage facility revolving loan fund and requires the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to adopt rules for its implementation.

• Creates the Everglades Restoration Agricultural Community Employment Training Program within the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) to provide grants to stimulate and support training and employment programs that seek to re-train and employ displaced agricultural workers.

• Requires SFWMD to give preferential hiring treatment to displaced agricultural workers, consistent with their qualifications and abilities, for construction and operation of the EAA reservoir project.

• Terminates the inmate labor work program on state-owned lands in the EAA.

The post-authorization change report must be approved by Congress by December 1, 2019.*

*If these two deadlines are not met (and no extension is granted), then the SFWMD must request that the Corps initiate the planning for the EAA Reservoir project that will result in a new Project Implementation Report (PIR) and may continue to build CEPP components as planned in the 2014 PIR.

Posted by Jon Ullman, May 2017, Sierra Club blog
Sierra Club Florida website:http://www.sierraclub.org/florida

JTL 6-23-17

Aerials of EAA’s A-1 & A-2, SLR/IRL

jxpf41485179455-2
Map giving an idea of location of A-1 and A-2
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A-1 with A-2 in distance

EAA=Everglades Agricultural Area

A-1 is a Flow Equalization Basin located above Strom Water Treatment Area 3/4 that today is part of a state program for EAA water quality improvement called “Restoration Strategies.”  The A-1 was once was part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan’s EAA Reservoir.

A-2 is to A-1’s  west and is presently in agricultural use but scheduled to become another Flow Equalization Basin as part of the Central Everglades Planning Project coordinated by the South Florida Water Management District and the Army Corp of Engineers.

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Over the weekend, I asked my husband, Ed, to fly me over the A-1 and A-2. He rolled his eyes as he does when I use “acronyms speak,” saying: “Just tell me where you want to go….and get a map.”

I got my old Florida Atlas & Gazetteer that works just fine…

As Ed drank his coffee, I gave him the plan.

img_9622

“Well we’re going to fly west over the C-44 Canal and then go south around Lake Okeechobee until we get to Belle Glade and there we are going to follow the North New River Canal south adjacent to Highway 27 until the bend, and the A-1 and A-2 should be just past there….”

Ed looked at me like I was crazy, smiling; I remind him that’s why he loves me and we were off!

Today I am sharing our photos of the area of the A-1.

Sit back and enjoy the flight…

Jacqui

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A-1 with A-2 lands in distance

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CEPP:http://141.232.10.32/pm/projects/proj_51_cepp.aspx
Restoration Strategies:https://www.sfwmd.gov/our-work/restoration-strategies
EAA Reservoir what was completed before change to FEB:http://www.barnard-inc.com/projects/environmental/eaa-a-1-reservoir-environmental
Senate President Joe Negron’s Reservoir goal:http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/palm-beach/fl-lake-okeechobee-reservoir-negron-20160809-story.html

Why #SupportJoeNegron ‘s EAA Reservoir? Because it Should Have Already Been Built! SLR/IR

Image 1-8-17 at 3.50 PM.jpg
CEPP, 2000.
img_9231-version-2
“A1” Reservoir was never built but rather the A1 Flow Equalization Basin instead

In my opinion, one should support Senator Negron’s controversial land purchase to build an EAA Reservoir, because the Reservoir should have already been built. It is a project that has been expected for almost two decades.

A summary–

Due to water quality lawsuits against sugarcane growers, during the 1980s and 90s, the State of Florida had to build six Storm Water Treatment Areas to clean runoff water using Everglades Agricultural Area land, taking valuable sugarcane out of production. (Orange shows STAs) Unfortunately, the industry brought this upon itself as for many years its water runoff had been polluting Everglades National Park and Tribal Lands.

.STA

The problem was so bad, that on top of the Stormwater Treatments Areas, Congress appropriated the beginnings of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. Yes, “CERP” has a plan for  “EAA Storage.” A Reservoir, to be the heart of clean water flowing south. (See 4 down left of image below)  CERP (https://www.nps.gov/ever/learn/nature/cerp.htm)
image-1-8-17-at-3-50-pm

Ev. Restoration.gov:http://141.232.10.32/pm/projects/proj_08_eaa_phase_1.aspx

At the beginning of CERP it was determined that the Reservoir/s were to be built near Stormwater Treatment Areas between the Miami and New River Canals. Although they tried, the SFWMD and ACOE never got very far building the Reservoir/s and, you’ll notice “EAA Storage” is still listed on the ACOE calendar of projects, scheduled to begin in 2021. (http://evergladesrestoration.gov/content/cepp/meetings/012512/Recap_EAA_Reservoirs.pdf)

fullsizerender-2
This shows an area of the EAA Reservoir/s proposed between the Miami and New River Canals.

“Why?” You might ask, “didn’t the EAA Reservoir/s get built ?”

ACOE’s IDS or Schedule of Projects: http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/Environmental/Ecosystem-Restoration/Integrated-Delivery-Schedule/

IMG_3459
Close up of latest ACOE IDS schedule. EAA Storage in white.

The Reservoir/s did not get built because Gov. Charlie Crist’s proposed an idea of US Sugar’s to purchase all of United States Sugar Corporation’s land. This did not work out, induced a halt to the building of the Reservoir, and caused great discord with the Water Management Districts and the state Legislature.  The Great Recession also made the full purchase very difficult.(http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/08/us/08everglades.html)(http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2009-09-11/news/0909100559_1_everglades-restoration-reservoir-construction-reservoir-project)

Then on top of the US Sugar and the Recession situation, a Federal law suit that had been dragging on for years was settled and really changed things for the Reservoir/s. In 2010, Governor Rick Scott, “negotiated” a long-standing EPA law suit agreeing that the state of Florida would build more water quality projects to clean sugarcane runoff in the EAA that continued to destroy fauna and pollute Everglades National Park. This “fix” became known as “Restoration Strategies.”(https://www.sfwmd.gov/our-work/restoration-strategies)

Restoration Strategies supplanted CERP’s unfinished EAA Reservoir, building a Flow Equalization Basin instead. Mind you, a shallow treatment area is not a true Reservoir.(https://www.northstar.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/SFWMD-EAA-A-1-Flow-Equalization-Basin.pdf)

Now for one last thing…

Just recently, in December of 2016, Congress authorized CEPP. CEPP consist of  six components of CERP mentioned earlier. One of CEPP’s components is the “EAA Reservoir.” This sounds great, but….

CEPP, if appropriated, will not build a Reservoir but yet another Flow Equalization Basin to be located right next to Restoration Strategy’s “A1 Flow Equalization Basin.” This new Flow Equalization Basin will be called the “The A2.” (http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/Environmental/Ecosystem-Restoration/Central-Everglades-Planning-Project/)

So in conclusion, neither Restoration Strategies nor CEPP will provide the Reservoir that was underway before everything changed in 2008, nor will their water come close to adding up to “a Reservoir.”

Supporting Joe Negron’s land purchase of 60,000 acres is the ground work for building a Reservoir that should have already been built!

#SupportJoeNegron

Support the completion of the EAA Reservoir!

(http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article94667592.html)

  • file-page1.jpgThe ACOE has EAA Storage on their construction schedule for 2021. By 2021 the estuaries will surly be dead.file-page1-2

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/#)

What are Our Options for “Sending it South?” St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

 

Chronology of Water Management Changes map. Reconstructed pre-drainage landscapes, source, McVoyet al., 2011. Presentation of Robert Johnson with words added: "Water Started Flowing South 2014."
“Chronology of Water Management Changes” map. Reconstructed pre-drainage landscapes, source, McVoyet al., 2011. Presentation of Robert Johnson, Director of South Florida Natural Resources Center at Everglades National Park,Everglades Coalition, 2015. (With words added: “Water Started Flowing South 2014, JTL”.)

After the horrendous “Lost Summer of 2013,” and public outcry, more water has been sent south to the Everglades by the Army Corp of Engineers and South Florida Water Management District in 2014/15 than in the past ten years. But we are still drowning…

Hanging over our heads is the fact that Lake Okeechobee is at 15.04 feet today, and chances are that to prepare the lake for a predicted El Nino rainy winter/spring, the ACOE is going to “have to” start releasing water soon. Although it’s being worked on right now, the system is not even close to being able to hold the ocean of overflow-lake water and “send it south….” plus we are handcuffed by 10 parts per billion phosphorus goals.(http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xrepository/sfwmd_repository_pdf/derivation_wqbel_stas_toc_4-20-10.pdf)

With this in mind, the Everglades Coalition’s 30th Annual Conference (http://evergladescoalition.orgwas a whirlwind; its theme “Send it South: Water for America’s Everglades.”

Let’s begin, by looking at some water/land maps and think about the big picture.

The image below is a “simplified chronology of water management changes,” and shows the canals and structures that waste water to the ocean destroying our precious estuaries. This map was shared by Robert Johnson during the coalition meeting. It made a big impression on me, because it gives historical perspective, is simple, and is clear.

Chronology of Water Management Changes map. Reconstructed pre-drainage landscapes, source, McVoyet al., 2011. Presentation of Robert Johnson with words added: "Water Started Flowing South 2014."
Map again from above to review.

The red lines are canals that drain lake Okeechobee. We know them well: the Caloosahatchee (C-43); the Miami: the North New River: the Hillsboro: the West Palm Beach; and our own St Lucie (C-44). The grey shows the Herbert Hoover Dike built around Lake Okeechobee in the 1930s after the terrible hurricanes of the late 1920s; the Eastern Protective Levee is also in grey, on the far right, and basically is like a giant underground wall between the Everglades and eastern coastal development; the Everglades Agricultural Area Levee System, which I think is the grey line depicting a structure built south and almost around the Everglades Agricultural area; the Water Conservation Area Levees (WCAs-areas where water slowly travels south after being cleaned in Storm Water Treatment Areas (STAs) above them) are the grey lines around the WCAs; and last on this chart, the South Dade Conveyance System…

There are other canals as well. Thousands of miles of them….

These canals make our lives a living hell along the Indian River Lagoon, and must be re-plumed, but we must note that they also have allowed South Florida to rise above the poverty of our ancestors, and to develop some of the world’s most “productive” sugar and vegetable farms. Too bad they had to build their riches south of Lake Okeechobee blocking the flow of the lake! Also, much of this drainage system has allowed  development of the east coast of south Florida, inside the Everglades’ boundary which is in yellow on the map above and red below.

The red line, shows were development has “crept into the Everglades.”  This is obviously a problem for sending water south. Therefore, whatever is created to “send more water south,” must be created so as to avoid destroying lives or property.

West of the red lines shows the edge of what was once the Everglades in South Florida. Development has crept and continues to creep over this edge. (Photo/map courtesy of Chappy Young,/GCY Surveyors, 2014.)
West of the red lines shows the edge of what was once the Everglades in South Florida. Development has crept and continues to creep over this edge. (Photo/map courtesy of Chappy Young,/GCY Surveyors, 2014.)

So narrowing this down to “our” needs, how does one build a way to send more water south? And aren’t we already doing that? Let’s look at the projects being built first before we conclude our goals for more storage.

There are many projects on the books to help with sending water south: some include CERP (http://www.evergladesplan.org/about/about_cerp_brief.aspx) and CEPP…(http://www.evergladesplan.org/docs/fs_cepp_jan_2013.pdf), in fact parts of the Tamiami Trail are being raised right now, but according to many experts at the coalition, one thing is missing, enormous amounts of LAND. Land would help these projects come into being. There must be land to hold some of the tremendous amounts of water, and to clean it. Also realistically, the above projects will take generations to complete. Land purchase or no land purchase. 

One thing  is for sure, more land south of the lake would help the situation tremendously. As even a five year old can see, lack of lands south of the lake is the true disconnect. But where is there that much land and what are our options?

Below is a map of “Option 1,” and “Option 2”, lands in the Everglades Agricultural Area, lands that US Sugar agreed to sell in 2008. These lands remain for sale.

Perhaps US Sugar rather not sell these lands anymore. In 2008 they were going broke, but today, ironically after an infusion of cash from the South Florida Water Management District that was given to buy the paired down 26,800 acres  purchased, and since the economy has improved since, US Sugar is thriving again.

But a “contract is a contract,” and thus there remains a contract allowing for the state of Florida to buy the option lands.

General consensus for many  at the Everglades Coalition meeting was “buy the lands” with the new Amendment 1  (http://ballotpedia.org/Florida_Water_and_Land_Conservation_Initiative,_Amendment_1_%282014%29monies starting with Option 1 because it is less expensive than Option 2, and can be traded for other lands, and because the option expires in October of 2015. The second option expires around 2020.

Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass
Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass

Would purchasing these slow everyone down even more, taking moneys  and energy away from other projects?

Hmmmm? Maybe, but according to some very seasoned River/Everglades Warriors, it is worth it.

At the Everglades Coalition meeting Nathaniel Reed, Maggie Hurchalla, Mary Barely,  former governor Bob Graham, and Mark Perry gave the group a “call to action” to purchase these option lands. It is a lofty goal and one that would change the game forever.

But there is not much time, and the legislature is in committee meetings “now.” (January through Feburary) and convenes (starts) March 3, 2015,  and then ends in May! A rabbit race!

There is not a second to spare.

So long story short, there may be options as far a purchasing the sugar lands, but there is no option when it comes to advocating for such. Should this be your goal, you must start today! Start writing and calling below and thank you for being a part of history!

Governor Rick Scott: (http://www.flgov.com/contact-gov-scott/email-the-governor/0)

House of Representatives: (http://www.myfloridahouse.gov)

Florida Senate: (http://www.flsenate.gov)

Senate site for future Amt 1 lands purchasing: (http://www.flsenate.gov/Media/PressReleases/Show/2159)

The Fallout of CEPP/the 4th Seminole War of Florida and the Indian River Lagoon

The delay of CEPP, the Central Everglades Planning Project may end up symbolically being the beginning of Florida's  4th Seminole War.
The delay of CEPP, the Central Everglades Planning Project, may end up symbolically being the beginning of Florida’s 4th Seminole War as people fight for water to move south. (Photos public.)

I really did not want to write about the failure of the Central Everglades Planning Project, CEPP,  as I have been trying to forget about it. The whole thing is so depressing to me.  However, last night, before I went to bed, my husband said,  “Dan thinks you should write about what’s going to happen now that CEPP did not make it into the WRDA bill…” So, I had a long series of nightmares, now it’s morning, and for Dr Daniel Velinsky, I will do the right thing, and try to write this piece.

First some history.

It is well documented that Florida’s three Seminole Wars were the longest, bloodiest, and most costly of all the Indian wars fought by the United States, fought on and off between 1814 and 1858.  In the end, no treaty was signed and the few hundred remaining native peoples hid in their well known Everglades swamp to resurrect themselves as today’s Seminole,  Miccosukee, and unaffiliated Independent Seminole Tribes.

300px-Seminole_War_in_Everglades

They never surrendered and today their successful 1980s/1990s law suit against the Federal Government and the State of Florida requiring the polluting of Everglades Agricultural Area run off water onto their lands, to be reduced from sometimes over 300 to 10 parts per billion/phosphorus, in my opinion, is a key reason, along with its tartiness and other issues, why CEPP was not included in the Water Resources Development Act, WRDA, bill by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.

I can hear the D.C. ACOE  now: “Even if we had the designated land, the mass of water could not be sent south—it’s too dirty. We need so much more land to clean it.  So we’ll build all this structure but we won’t be able to send but a dribble of water south…Florida has to lessen the water quality requirements or …”

Well first of all, I say “kudos” to the Seminole  and Miccosucci for holding the state responsible for cleaning up its water, even if it is an”impossible” number to achieve under present circumstances. I’d say in the karma department, “we had it coming.”

So now what do we do? Well in my opinion a type of war is going to start, and I liken the people of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon to the “Fourth Indian War Warriors.” We will not surrender.

The failure of CEPP to pass will historically be the beginning of this war. And like the Indians of the 1880s, we were indirectly lied to, and part of it was our fault for believing what we were told, knowing the facts of history.

We all watched and participated along with the South Florida Water Management District and the Jacksonville Army Corp of Engineers for three years, putting full concentration of resources and creativity– forcing dedicated staff from both agencies to produce a document, CEPP,  that the US Army Corp of Engineers more than likely knew, would never make it. So now,  “they” want us to continue rallying for another two years for next WRDA bill. “Oh sorry maybe it will be seven years….”

I don’t think so.

Guess what? The people are tired of waiting. They put their money on the state and federal governments’ horse, and our horse wasn’t  even allowed to run.

Do you feel the chain pulling and digging into your neck? I do.

This tactic is not new, and honestly I think it is simply part of a dysfunctional federal and state government. Let’s look back.

In the 1990s governor Lawton Childs had the state halt the famous water quality law suit and actually “laid down his sword” in a courtroom-how courageous, but look where we are now; in the mid 2000s Charlie Christ’s “Sugar Land Deal” was downsized due to the Economic Crisis of 2008 and other politics; before that, Jeb Bush started the “Acceler8 Program to quickly complete eight of over 60 Central Everglades Restoration Plan’s (CERP) projects. The SFWMD, functioning under the governor, worked diligently like they did recently for CEPP–the eight projects  were not completed; and since 2011/12, under the Rick Scott administration, the entire focus was on CEPP, which also would have bundled  some of the CERP projects to begin “moving faster” and to “move the water south.” After years of laser like dedication, for now, the project is “dead.”

Florida has water quality and quantity issues brewing like a hurricane, and our Indian River Lagoon area will be the eye in November of 2014, as former governor Charlie Christ runs against Governor Rick Scott. The race would have been messy anyway, but now it is going to be war as the different sides  configure how to “send the water south” with out CEPP.  Start thinking about how you want to send the water south or stored, and “never, never, never give up.”

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History Florida WQ Law Suit:(http://www.peer.org/assets/docs/fl/08_14_8_epa_losing_water_quality_cases.pdf)

Seminole Tribe: (http://www.semtribe.com)

Miccosukee Tribe: (http://www.miccosukeetribe.com)

 

 

ACOE’s Refusal of CEPP, and the Future of the Indian River Lagoon

Topographical map of EAA shows elevations. CEPP would  move some lake water south, rather than through the northern estuaries.  Through canals in the EAA to other structures this water would be cleaned and then directed to the Everglades. The ACOE refused to sign off on CEPP 4/22/14.
Topographical map of EAA showing elevations. CEPP would move  approximately 15% of Lake Okeechobee’s overflow water south and build a basis for future increases, rather than sending all water through the northern estuaries. By means of canals in the EAA and other structures, this water would be cleaned and then directed to the Everglades. The ACOE refused to sign off on CEPP 4/22/14. (Map courtesy of INTER-MAP via Kevin Henderson)

CEPP=Central Everglades Planning Project, 2014,( contains elements of CERP); CERP=Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan of 2000.

To every action, there is a reaction, and in the case of the ACOE refusing to sign off on CEPP, the reaction here in Martin, St Lucie, and Lee County across the state certainly will not be “good.”

Mind you there is a Jacksonville ACOE, who works with “us”  and then the ACOE in DC. They are the same but different…

Let’s start at somewhat of the beginning so we can get a grip on this always terribly confusing, multi-layered attempt to fix our estuaries and restore the Everglades.

Around 2000, long before I was involved with the River Movement directly, a group of Florida stakeholders, including environmentalists, the agriculture industry, tribes, utilities, users,  and government agencies miraculously agreed on something called CERP, or the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.  This plan consisted of at least 68 projects to “fix the Everglades.” It was historical and celebrated by all. Congress approved and eventually appropriated some funds that would be shared in costs with the South Florida Water Management District, (SFWMD) towards “CERP.”

Now, 14 years later, some work has been done, but not one of the 68 projects has been completed.

OK now we move to 2010, 2011… still in the sinkhole of 2008 Great Recession, the SFWMD, the local ACOE Jacksonville team, and the stakeholders decide sitting with “nothing” is not an option and determine to do something unprecedented and “speed things up.” They work like crazy, often being criticized by those same stakeholders, to package some of the CERP ideas into CEPP (the Central Everglades Planning Project) to sell to the DC ACOE and Congress again, in a different form, and get things going.

Although often behind, the Jacksonville ACOE appears to almost meet their deadline of 18 months and finally, two weeks ago the SFWMD is able to sign off on cost sharing (not an easy task and not all supported the move) on the local Jacksonville  ACOE completed CEPP project— which of course has to meet every Tom, Dick and Harry regulation you can possibly imagine. A neurotic situation for sure.

So yesterday, Earth Day, the Washington D.C. ACOE office refuses to sign off on CEPP, saying they need more time to review the documents they have had since last August.

As of yet,  no official statement has been given, but the local press and the Everglades Foundation’s Eric Eichenberg  call the move “a staggering failure of duty and responsibility.” I would imagine the main concern here is that the Water Resources Development Bill (WRDA) that only comes around once every 5-7 years these days, must include CEPP for it to be funded (appropriated) by Congress. Now it seems CEPP will certainly not make the deadline, which is really “now.”

So is there hope? We all know, that “it’s not over until its over,” and until the WRDA is officially closed, perhaps some political miracle could  ensue. Is it likely? I would doubt it. But I do not know.

What I do know is that Florida has been really dependent on the Federal Government since 1933 when the Florida Legislature and the people of Florida convinced the US Government to build the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee and the ensuing flood control projects over the years to protect the important growing agriculture industry south of the lake and thousands of people who were allowed to build and develop inside the Everglades’ historical flow area, especially south from Palm Beach to Dade counties. At this time there was no thought of the estuaries.

So in many ways we want our cake and to eat it too….”protect us from the waters of Lake O but don’t hurt the estuaries….” Something is going to have to give.

For almost four years, Senator Joe Negron has been pushing for less involvement of the ACOE. Whether one likes Senator Negron or not, I agree with his philosophy.  Congress/ the US ACOE is no longer supporting the dredging of our state inlets which they did for almost 100 years, and they most likely not going to support the restoration of the Everglades and the betterment of the estuaries through changing our pluming system and sending more water south. After 14 years of of begging, and celebrating crumbs, you’d think we’d get the message.

Is this the Jacksonville local ACOE’s fault? Not really as the Federal Government is simply terribly dysfunctional so it is hard for the ACOE to do its job, plus they are broke.

In conclusion, yes, we have to finish what’s been started, and I recognize the difficulty of “us” fixing our own problems, however; if we really take a hard look in the mirror, there may not be a choice but to try.

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ACOE CEPP: (http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Portals/44/docs/FactSheets/CEPP_FS_September2013_508.pdf)

SFWMD/ACOE  CEPP: (http://www.evergladesplan.org/pm/projects/proj_51_cepp.aspx)