Choices for Storage Reservoirs to Reduce Okeechobee Discharges
| January 3, 2018
SFWMD keeps the public apprised of progress on the Everglades Agricultural Area Storage Reservoir through an innovative web page that features an interactive map and milestone tracker.

West Palm Beach, FL - With the passage of Senate Bill 10, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) was tasked with developing a southern reservoir project plan that reduces harmful Lake Okeechobee discharges and sends additional water south into the Everglades, all while meeting the state's stringent water quality standards. 

During the District's ninth public meeting, its team showed stakeholders and interested parties how alternatives to build the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Storage Reservoir Project, when used in conjunction with other ongoing restoration efforts, would significantly benefit the coastal estuaries and the entire Everglades.

The alternatives for the study include:

  • Alternatives R240A and R240B: These alternatives would each store 240,000 acre-feet of water by utilizing a 10,100-acre reservoir and 6,500-acre stormwater treatment area (STA) on the District-owned A-2 parcel and lands to the west. The main difference between the two alternatives is the location of the STA. These alternatives, when coupled with the completion of other restoration projects such as the remaining components of the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP), would reduce the total number of Lake Okeechobee damaging discharge events to the coastal estuaries by 56 percent. These alternatives are estimated to cost approximately $1.4 billion to build.
  • Alternatives R360C and R360D: These alternatives would each store 360,000 acre-feet of water by utilizing a 19,700-acre reservoir and 11,500-acre STA on the A-2 parcel and lands to the west, as well as the adjacent A-1 parcel. The main difference between the two alternatives is the location of the STA. These alternatives, when coupled with the completion of other restoration projects such as the remaining components of CEPP, would reduce the total number of Lake Okeechobee damaging discharge events to the coastal estuaries by 61 percent. These alternatives are estimated to cost approximately $1.9 billion to build.
  • Alternative C360C: This alternative would have the same configuration as Alternative R360C, as well as being able to serve multiple purposes, such as supply water for environmental restoration and other uses as identified in the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). This alternative, when coupled with the completion of other restoration projects such as the remaining components of CEPP, would reduce the total number of Lake Okeechobee damaging discharge events to the coastal estuaries by 61 percent. This alternative is estimated to cost approximately $1.9 billion to build.

All of the proposed alternatives would treat water to meet the state's stringent water quality standards as required by Senate Bill 10.

All of the proposed alternatives would meet the CERP goal for increased flow to the Everglades by sending an annual average of about 98 billion gallons of treated water south. 

All of the proposed alternatives would increase the flow of treated fresh water to Florida Bay at the southern end of the Everglades. This action would help to reduce elevated salinity levels in the bay after localized droughts that can cause seagrass die-off. SFWMD staff will continue to refine these alternatives.

The District has communicated with landowners in the EAA to identify willing sellers to either directly purchase or exchange their lands for any available state lands. 

Background and Public Engagement

The process of planning for the reservoir began as Senate Bill 10. Earlier this year, the bill was authorized by the Florida Legislature in an effort led by Sen. Joe Negron, and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott. A progress report on the District's findings regarding all of the project alternatives, including benefits and estimated costs, will be sent to the Legislature in January in accordance with state law.

A Post Authorization Change Report that will describe the most cost-effective alternative for this project as the next increment of the Congressionally-approved Central Everglades Planning Project will be sent to the Assistant Secretary of the Army, Civil Works, for federal approval and cost sharing in March 2018.

If you would like to provide comments, you can still submit feedback via email to EAAreservoir@sfwmd.gov or through handwritten correspondence to:

Mike Albert, Project Manager

South Florida Water Management District

3301 Gun Club Road, MSC 8312

West Palm Beach, FL 33406

For modeling data and more information on the meetings, including agendas and presentations, visit www.sfwmd.gov/eaareservoir.

To learn more about SFWMD's ongoing planning projects that are part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, visit www.sfwmd.gov/cerpplanning.


 

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