May 15, 2014
Everglades Restoration: CERP and the Central Everglades
Planning Project (CEPP)
CEPP Is a Potential New CERP Project That Has
Not Been Congressionally Authorized
What are the Everglades? The Everglades are a unique
network of subtropical wetlands in South Florida. Due in
part to federal water supply and flood control projects (as
well as agricultural and urban runoff), the network has been
degraded and is approximately half its historical size. The
ecosystem is home to a number of unique species, including
67 species on the federal endangered or threatened species
What is CERP? The Comprehensive Everglades
Restoration Plan, or CERP, was approved by Congress in
the Water Resources Development Act of 2000. It is a
framework under which the federal government, with the
State of Florida, is attempting to restore the Everglades and
expand water supplies by improving the timing, distribution
and quality of the water flowing south from Lake
Okeechobee to the Everglades, among other things. Under
CERP, the federal government (through the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers and the Department of the Interior) is
required to fund half the costs for restoration, with an array
of state, tribal, and local agencies paying the other half.
Originally CERP was expected to include 60 projects that
would be completed over a 30-year horizon at a cost of $10
billion. More recent estimates have projected that the
project will take approximately 50 years to implement, at a
total cost of $13.5 billion. To date, federal and state
expenditures on CERP have been approximately $1 billion.
The Central Everglades Planning Project, or CEPP (shown
below in Figure 1), is an Everglades restoration study
under the CERP framework that was initiated in 2011 by
the Corps and the Department of the Interior, with the State
of Florida. It is expected to recommend a suite of
restoration projects in the central Everglades that would be
a part of the broader CERP program aiming to address
problems associated with the timing and distribution of
freshwater flows in the central Everglades. It was initiated
due to a perceived need to prioritize restoration projects in
this portion of the ecosystem, in order to enhance the
prospects for Everglades restoration overall.
Figure 1. CEPP Study Area
Everglades restoration under CERP was approved in
2000 and is expected to take 50 years to complete.
Outside of CERP, complementary efforts to restore the
Everglades (most of which pre-date CERP) are also
ongoing. These efforts, collectively referred to as “nonCERP projects,” have totaled more than $3 billion.
Everglades Restoration Projects Must Be
Authorized by Congress
While WRDA 2000 approved the overall CERP plan and
process, and authorized several pilot projects, most CERP
construction projects require additional study by the Corps
and congressional authorization of construction before they
can receive federal appropriations, including credit and/or
reimbursement for nonfederal work undertaken in advance.
WRDA 2007 (P.L. 110-114) authorized three CERP
construction projects, all of which are currently underway.
Other CERP studies are complete and are awaiting
congressional construction authorization.
Source: Corps of Engineers.
Notes: Shaded portions indicate CEPP study area.
www.crs.gov | 7-5700
Everglades Restoration: CERP and the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP)
Expedited CEPP Study. Due to the interest in expediting
CEPP’s authorization and construction, the Corps included
this study among those investigations being undertaken as
part of its National Planning Pilot Program. The aim of this
effort is to complete feasibility studies in less time than is
traditional for Corps investigations. Among other goals,
studies initiated under the pilot are expected to adhere to a
“3x3x3” rule, which means that feasibility studies will be
completed with no more than $3 million in federal costs, in
three years or less, and with the involvement of the three
levels of Corps review (districts, divisions, and
Headquarters). To date, the CEPP feasibility study has
completed the scoping and analysis stages, and a tentatively
selected plan has been announced by the Corps and
circulated for public comment. The draft project
implementation report (PIR) for CEPP was released by the
Corps in August 2013 and was available for public
comment through November 2013. It is currently
undergoing internal Corps review.
Civil Works Review Board Involvement. Before a project
report by the Chief of Engineers (commonly referred to as a
“Chief’s Report”) can be finalized, Corps policy is for the
study to be approved by the Civil Works Review Board
(CWRB) and undergo a 30-day state and agency review. On
April 23, 2014, the Corps announced that CWRB release of
CEPP for state and agency review would be delayed
pending unspecified changes to be made to the final report.
The Corps projected that an updated final report could be
reviewed and released by the CWRB no later than the end
of June. Based on this, a Chief’s Report could be available
as early as late summer. The Assistant Secretary of the
Army (Civil Works) would then review the study for
compliance with Administration policy, and transmit a
recommendation for construction to Congress. Some are
concerned about the potential timing of subsequent
CEPP Authorization Prospects Are Uncertain
Proposed omnibus authorizing legislation for water
resources activities in the 113th Congress (H.R. 3080 and S.
601) would provide the Corps with authority to carry out
four additional Everglades restoration projects under the
CERP framework (see Figure 2). H.R. 3080 identifies
specific projects, including the four CERP projects with
completed and transmitted studies awaiting authorizations.
S. 601 would authorize new construction projects meeting
specified criteria; among those criteria are a Chief's Report,
and a transmittal from the Assistant Secretary of the Army
(Civil Works) to Congress with a recommendation for
construction. That is, while both bills would authorize four
additional Everglades restoration projects, neither would
authorize CEPP as of May 2014. Because Corps projects
are not eligible for federal construction appropriations until
they have been authorized, congressional authorization of
CEPP may remain a concern for Everglades stakeholders,
particularly if a water resources authorization bill is enacted
For more information on Everglades restoration, see CRS
Report R42007, Everglades Restoration: Funding and
Implementation Progress. CRS reports are also available on
Corps authorizations and appropriations processes (CRS
Report R41243) and proposed water resources development
legislation in the 113th Congress (CRS Report R43298).
Charles V. Stern, firstname.lastname@example.org, 7-7786
Figure 2. Status of Recent CERP Projects
Authorization Construction Status
Site 1 Impoundment
Indian River LagoonSouth
C-43 West Storage
C-111 Spreader Canal Pending
Water Preserve Areas
Biscayne Bay Coastal
Study Under Review
Source: CRS, based on Corps data.
Notes: Does not include pilot projects authorized in WRDA 2000.
www.crs.gov | 7-5700