Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan
The Central and Southern Florida (C&SF) Project, which was first authorized by Congress in 1948, is a multi-purpose project that provides flood control, water supply for municipal, industrial, and agricultural uses, prevention of saltwater intrusion, water supply for Everglades National Park, and protection of fish and wildlife resources. The primary system includes about 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of levees, 720 miles (1,160 km) of canals, and almost 200 water control structures. The C&SF Project has performed its authorized functions well, however, the project has had unintended adverse effects on the unique and diverse environment that constitutes south Florida ecosystems, including the Everglades and Florida Bay.
The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) provides a framework and guide to restore, protect and preserve the water resources of central and southern Florida, including the Everglades. It covers 16 counties over an 18,000-square-mile (47,000 km2) area and centers on an update of the Central & Southern Florida (C&SF) Project also known as the Restudy. The State of Florida (via the South Florida Water Management District) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are undertaking various projects under CERP to help ensure the proper quantity, quality, timing, and distribution of waters to the Everglades and all of South Florida.
The Plan was approved in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2000. It includes more than 60 elements, will take more than 30 years to construct, and was originally estimated to cost $7.8 billion.
The goal of CERP is to capture fresh water that now flows unused to the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico and redirect it to areas that need it most. The majority of the water will be devoted to environmental restoration, reviving a dying ecosystem. The remaining water will benefit cities and farmers by enhancing water supplies for the south Florida economy.
Numerous lawsuits affecting Everglades restoration are pending before the courts.
U.S. National Research Council reviews
A series of biennial reports from the U.S. National Research Council have reviewed the progress of CERP. The fourth report in the series, released in 2012, found that little progress has been made in restoring the core of the remaining Everglades ecosystem; instead, most project construction so far has occurred along its periphery. The report noted that to reverse ongoing ecosystem declines, it will be necessary to expedite restoration projects that target the central Everglades and to improve both the quality and quantity of the water in the ecosystem.
To better understand the potential implications of the current slow pace of progress, the report assessed the current status of ten Everglades ecosystem attributes, including phosphorus loads, peat depth, and populations of snail kites, birds of prey that are endangered in South Florida. Most attributes received grades ranging from C (degraded) to D (significantly degraded), but the snail kite received a grade of F (near irreversible damage). The report also assessed the future trajectory of each ecosystem attribute under three restoration scenarios: improved water quality, improved hydrology, and improvements to both water quality and hydrology, which helped highlight the urgency of restoration actions to benefit a wide range of ecosystem attributes and demonstrate the cost of inaction.
Overall, the report concluded that substantial near-term progress to address both water quality and hydrology in the central Everglades is needed to reverse ongoing degradation before it’s too late.
- Development of the Central & South Florida (C&SF) Project
- About CERP: a Brief Overview
- National Research Council Report-in-Brief,Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The Fourth Biennial Review, 2012, http://dels.nas.edu/Report/Progress-Toward-Restoring-Everglades/13422
- National Research Council Report,Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The Fourth Biennial Review, 2012, http://dels.nas.edu/Report/Progress-Toward-Restoring-Everglades/13422
- National Research Council Report-in-Brief,Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The Fourth Biennial Review, 2012,http://dels.nas.edu/Materials/Report-In-Brief/4296-Everglades