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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (September 20, 2017) - Audubon commends the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for its recent legislative budget request that includes the largest single request for funding for America's Everglades in the agency’s history. DEP recommends a total of $305.8 million for Everglades restoration and associated programs. Significant investments include water storage projects and improving the ability to move water south through the ecosystem to more closely replicate the historic natural water flow.
“In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and continued high water level emergencies in the Everglades, DEP recognizes that Everglades restoration is a top priority,” said Julie Hill-Gabriel, Audubon Florida deputy director. “The recommended investments are critical to help the Everglades recover from recent storm and high water events and provide the flexibility to store more water and move it to the right places at the right times. This record-setting budget request comes at just the right time.”
Some highlights of the DEP legislative budget request include:
- $64 million for the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir in accordance with Senate Bill 10 that passed this spring. One of the biggest issues facing the Everglades is the lack of water storage options south of Lake Okeechobee. Funding for the South Florida Water Management District will allow work to begin on a reservoir that can hold at least 240,000 acre-feet of water.
- $10 million for constructing the S-333 pump station, part of the Central Everglades Planning Project. Everglades habitat has suffered because of barriers to the natural north-to-south flow of water. This project will increase the amount of water that can be sent south under Tamiami Trail and work in concert with the completed Tamiami Trail one-mile bridge and the 2.6-mile bridge currently under construction.
- $105 million for the C-43 Caloosahatchee West Basin Storage Reservoir. The Caloosahatchee Estuary relies on a delicate balance of freshwater and saltwater. This reservoir will store water going to the Caloosahatchee River and Estuary during wet periods and provide a source of water during the dry season.
- $16 million to complete the Lakeside Ranch STA. Reducing harmful nutrients from water before it flows into Lake Okeechobee is one of the toughest Everglades challenges. This project helps clean water north of Lake Okeechobee.