Tag Archives: Youth Environmental Education

“Golden Handcuffs, our Federal/State Partnership”

C-44 STA Groundbreaking 2011, a Federal/State partnership
C-44 STA Groundbreaking 2011, a CERP project

In 2000, after many years of compromise and work, the stakeholders of WRAC, or the Water Resource Advisory Committee, of the SFWMD, “agreed” on a monumental Everglades restoration project called CERP, or the Central Everglades Restoration Project. This accomplishment, and that it was, was approved and celebrated through the WRDA bill signed by our federal government, with the State of Florida, giddy, cheering on.  Unfortunately, only one of the 60 projects of CERP, Spreader Canal 111, has been completed in fourteen years. Moving forward with projects is  torturously slow. Time goes on, people, positions, the economy, and politicians change; and we forget…http://www.evergladesplan.org/about/rest_plan_pt_01.aspx

To overcome this molasses like state/federal partnership, in 2011, the SFWMD and the ACOE came up with CEPP, fast tracking of some of the components of CERP, “to move more water south…” The goal was to complete the study and recommend to Congress in 18 months. http://www.evergladesplan.org/docs/fs_cepp_jan_2013.pdf  This goal was accomplished but another Federal WRDA bill and a final OK, presently “await.”

Absolutely,  Florida’s government has its problems, but in essence, the fast tracking stopped as soon as CEPP got to the Federal Government causing the  people of Florida to wonder what is happening and continue fighting at home.  Recently, our state government complained that “the feds” have not come forward with their promised share, and “being credited” it is an issue.  Also, you hear about “cost sharing,” a complicated arrangement where the  state cannot outspend the feds or visa versa. So if the feds don’t move forward after the state has spent money, the State has to just wait, and wait,  and wait…

On its most basic level, the state and federal arrangement is a relationship of sorts. CERP/WRDA is a contract, kind of like a marriage or business document.  In the end, if both parties don’t  contribute, things go sour. The biggest  problem for us in this relationship is that we are so dependent on the Federal Government and their money, ironically, just like the Sugar Farmers are dependent for their price limits through the US Farm Bill. And just like the Farm Bill, WRDA  is so intertwined other other things/dependencies  that have nothing to do with the original contract, that we can’t pull away, we can’t let go. We are handcuffed waiting for the money…

So the years go by, and a child grows up and votes and serves our county and has children before another Everglades CERP project is built.  I say our best chance of throwing off the golden handcuffs and  saving the Everglades and our dying estuary, the St Lucie River, Indian River Lagoon, is truly educating our youth on the faults and dreams of our system. They certainly can come up with something better.