DeSantis announces ‘major milestone’ to advance EAA Reservoir Project | News, Sports, Jobs
Governor Ron DeSantis, along with Florida Secretary of State for Environment Noah Valenstein and the South Florida Water Management District, announced significant progress on Thursday with the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir Project.
The South Florida Water Management District Board of Directors unanimously approved an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Thursday morning under which officials will keep the Corps on track to begin federal construction of the reservoir component this year.
In April 2020, DeSantis announced that the South Florida Water Management District had started construction on the Florida state’s component of the rainwater treatment area, 12 months ahead of schedule.
“Today is a critical milestone in restoring the Everglades and achieving our state’s long-term environmental goals.” said DeSantis. “When I took office, I made accelerating the EAA reservoir project my top priority. Signing this agreement means we are one step closer to moving cleaner water south through the Everglades and reducing harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries. “
The action was praised by the agencies participating in the press conference.
“Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, DEP and the South Florida Water Management District have accelerated the state portion of the EAA Reservoir Project and started construction 12 months ahead of schedule.” said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. “Today’s signing of the Project Partnership Agreement is an important step that will allow the Corps to begin building the federal part of this project. I urge the Corps to consider the dynamism and urgency of the state on this critical project that will greatly reduce harmful discharges into the northern estuaries and send more water south for the benefit of the Everglades ecosystem and the people of Florida. “
“Three years ago the quota makers who are here today would have bet heavily against us. Driving the construction of the EAA reservoir has been an uphill battle. But we’re here today working with the US Army Corps of Engineers. “ said Chauncey Goss, chairman of the board of directors of the South Florida Water Management District and a former member of the Sanibel City Council. “This is just one test of how government can work for the people when strong leaders are involved. Governor DeSantis kept a close eye on the price and never shook his project, even when it was politically expedient to throw in the towel. Because of his leadership, support from Florida law, and the dedication of the SFWMD Board of Directors and staff, we are well on our way to completing the EAA Reservoir Project. Today’s agreement is critical to restoring the health of our estuaries and the Everglades. We look forward to the US Army Corps laying the groundwork for its part of the EAA Reservoir Project as soon as possible. “
Others also weighed in, including several environmental groups.
“We are here for the leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida legislation that listened to the people of Florida and put the completion of this critical reservoir on a fast track.” said Eric Eikenberg, CEO of the Everglades Foundation. “This would not have been possible without the tenacious determination of former Senate President Joe Negron, who steadfastly carried out this project. Thanks to their perseverance, we are starting construction a year earlier than planned. Completion of the EAA Reservoir, along with others under construction, will cut algae-related discharges from Lake Okeechobee by more than half and provide America’s Everglades and Florida Bay with a source of life-giving fresh clean water. “
Negron continued to praise DeSantis.
“The EAA Reservoir is the indispensable component in stopping Lake Okeechobee discharges once and for all.” Said Negron. Early on, Governor DeSantis promised the Florida citizens to build this reservoir. He kept his word and never wavered. That’s why we’re here this morning – victorious. “
Applause came from several corners of the state.
“This is a great day for the Everglades and northern estuaries.” said James Evans, director of environmental policy at the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation. “Thanks to the leadership of Governor DeSantis and the Board of Directors, we are making rapid progress on the key Everglades restoration project. This project will reduce harmful discharges into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries and restore freshwater flows to the Everglades and Florida Bay. “
“The EAA Reservoir is a cornerstone of the project that will help provide fresh, clean water to the wetlands of Everglades National Park and Florida Bay, especially during the drier months when we need it.” said Pedro Ramos, Superintendent of the Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Parks. “This is an important step forward and the greatest gift for the Everglades on Earth Day.”
“Audubon applauds the Board of Directors and the Army Corps for quickly reaching an agreement to move the EAA Reservoir Project forward.” said Beth Alvi, political director for Audubon Florida. “We thank Governor DeSantis for his continued commitment to restoring the Everglades. The EAA Reservoir Project will benefit Florida’s environment and economy, reducing harmful discharges into estuaries to the east and west, and directing clean water south into the Everglades. “
“The EAA Reservoir project is critical to restoring the Everglades and protecting our lagoons and estuaries.” said Lisa Interlandi, executive director of the Everglades Law Center. “This project has been a long time coming and it’s great to see the State of Florida and the South Florida Water Management District move at full speed to make it happen.”
“It is great to see the South Florida Water Management District, led by Governor DeSantis, making progress in restoring the Everglades.” said Captain Daniel Andrews, chief executive officer of Captains For Clean Water. “Clean and usable waterways are the backbone of Florida’s economy, and the EAA Reservoir Project is an important part of rebalancing our estuaries. This agreement will allow progress to continue and move things in the right direction. Projects like this are huge endeavors and it is imperative that they stay on track if we are to save our water. We’re delighted that this agreement stays on course here today. “
“The EAA Reservoir is central to restoring the Everglades and is critical to reducing harmful discharges that harm the environment and our coastal communities while retaining, treating, and directing water south to the Everglades.” said Rob Moher, President and CEO of Conservancy of Southwest Florida. “We appreciate that the Governor and Board of Directors have continued to make this project a top priority and we appreciate the signing of the Project Partnership Agreement between the South Florida Water Management District and the US Army Corps of Engineers.”
“We are delighted with the progress that the South Florida Water Management District, under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, has made in signing the agreement to begin construction on the EAA Reservoir.” said Emma Haydocy, general manager of Florida Bay Forever. “The reservoir is the only restoration project that will have the most direct and positive impact on Florida Bay, bringing clean water south to where it’s most needed. Today is a great day for Florida Bay and the entire Florida Keys community. “
“With this agreement, construction of the EAA reservoir by the Army Corps of Engineers can begin in earnest.” said Jim McDuffie, President and CEO of Bonefish & Tarpon Trust. “Never before has a project been so important in restoring the Everglades. We thank Governor Ron DeSantis for his guidance and unwavering commitment, and SFWMD for keeping the momentum going. Every hurdle, including some that would have delayed the start of the project, has been removed and much-needed action accelerated. “
The Corps agreed that the action was a project milestone.
“The signing of this agreement is an important event as we continue the Everglades Restoration journey with our state partners.” said Col. Andrew Kelly, commander of the US Army Corps of Engineers in the Jacksonville District.
According to official figures, the EAA Reservoir Project is one of the most important projects to restore the Everglades, to reduce harmful discharges into the northern estuaries and to bring more clean water south into the Everglades.
DeSantis’ efforts began on his second day in office with the signing of Executive Order 19-12. Since taking office, DeSantis has also secured record funding to restore the Everglades to support this and other key projects, and has signed major environmental laws, including the Clean Waterways Act.
The EAA Reservoir Project is a joint Everglades restoration project between the South Florida Water Management District and the US Army Corps of Engineers.
The South Florida Water Management District began construction of the water-purifying swamp known as the stormwater treatment area last year. The agreement enables the US Army Corps of Engineers to build the associated storage reservoir.
“The EAA Reservoir Project will benefit both the environment and the Florida economy.” Officials said in an announcement issued by the governor’s office.
“In addition to providing more clean water for the Everglades, the project will create jobs and significantly strengthen the nearby economies south of Lake Okeechobee.”
Source: Governor’s Office