Recent Developments in Everglades Restoration

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Updated September 17, 2020
Recent Developments in Everglades Restoration
Overview

CERP projects are in progress (see Table 1). Projects with
completed studies and signed reports from the Chief of
What Is the Everglades? The Everglades is a unique
Engineers (e.g., Loxahatchee River Watershed Project) are
network of subtropical wetlands in South Florida. Due in
awaiting potential authorization in legislation in the 116th
part to federal water supply and flood control projects (as
Congress (see S. 3591 and H.R. 7575).
well as agricultural and urban runoff), the ecosystem was
degraded and was approximately half its historical size by
Table 1. Status of Recent CERP USACE Projects
the end of the 20th century. The ecosystem is home to a
number of unique species, including 67 species listed under
Construction
the Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. §§1531 et. seq.).
Project Name
Authorization
Status
What Is CERP? The Comprehensive Everglades
Site 1 Impoundment WRDA 2007
Phase 1 completed
Restoration Plan (CERP) was approved by Congress in the
Phase II on hold
Water Resources Development Act of 2000 (WRDA 2000;
Picayune Strand
WRDA 2007
Under construction
P.L. 106-541). It is a framework under which the federal
government, with the State of Florida, is attempting to
Indian River
WRDA 2007
Under construction
restore the Everglades and improve the timing, distribution,
Lagoon-South
and quality of the water flowing south from Lake
C-43 West Storage
WRRDA 2014
Under construction
Okeechobee to the Everglades. Under CERP, the federal
Basin
government, through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
(USACE) and the Department of the Interior (DOI), is
C-111 Spreader
WRRDA 2014
Complete
required to fund half the costs of restoration, with the State
Canal
of Florida contributing the other half. Several tribal and
local agencies also are involved in restoration. Originally,
Broward County
WRRDA 2014
Under construction
Water Preserve
CERP was to include 60 projects that would be completed
over 30 years at a cost of $8.2 billion (in 2000 dollars). A
Areas
2015 report to Congress increased this estimate; the report
Biscayne Bay
WRRDA 2014
Under construction
projected that CERP will take approximately 50 years to
Coastal Wetlands
implement at a total cost of $16.4 billion (in FY2015
dollars). As of FY2020, the federal government has spent
Central Everglades
WRDA 2016
Under construction
more than $1.7 billion and the State of Florida has spent an
Planning Project
estimated $4.5 billion on CERP in nominal dollars
(CEPP)
(although much of this state funding is not yet officially
Everglades
WRDA 2018
Awaiting construction
credited for Florida’s share of the cost).
Agricultural Area
Reservoir Storage
Everglades restoration under CERP was authorized in
Loxahatchee River
Awaiting
Study completed
2000 and is expected to take 50 years to complete.
Watershed Project
authorization
Lake Okeechobee
n/a
Study in progress
Outside of CERP, complementary efforts to restore the
Watershed Project
Everglades (most of which predate CERP) are ongoing. The
federal government has spent more than $3.5 billion on
Western Everglades
n/a
Study in progress
these efforts, collectively referred to as non-CERP projects.
Restoration Project
Everglades Restoration Projects Must Be
Source: Congressional Research Service based on U.S. Army Corps of
Authorized by Congress
Engineers (USACE) information and enacted legislation.
WRDA 2000 approved CERP and the process for its
Note: n/a = not applicable. WRDA = Water Resources and
implementation. The law also authorized several pilot
Development Act; WRDA 2007, WRDA 2016, and WRDA 2018 are P.L.
projects. Subsequent projects require study by USACE and
110-114, P.L. 114-322, and P.L. 115-270, respectively. WRRDA 2014 =
congressional authorization before they can receive federal
Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-121).
appropriations, including credit or reimbursement for
Recent Authorizations
nonfederal work undertaken in advance. Several laws
subsequent to WRDA 2000 authorized projects
Central Everglades Planning Project. The Central
contemplated under CERP. Some projects received
Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) is a CERP restoration
appropriations and are under construction. Studies for other
project that Congress authorized in the Water Resources
Development Act of 2016 (P.L. 114-322). CEPP prioritizes
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link to page 2 Recent Developments in Everglades Restoration
restoration projects (e.g., CEPP South, CEPP North, and
President’s budget requests and previous USACE work
CEPP New Water) in the central portion of the Everglades
plans (see Table 2). The Administration’s FY2021 request
and aims to address issues associated with the quantity,
for USACE CERP and non-CERP projects is greater than
quality, timing, and distribution of freshwater flows south
FY2020 enacted levels. The Administration’s request for
of Lake Okeechobee into the central Everglades and
DOI is lower than FY2020 enacted levels. Congress
Everglades National Park. Congress authorized $2.0 billion
provides appropriations to DOI agencies for restoration
in funding for the project, with a federal share of
activities under Interior and Related Agencies
approximately $1.0 billion. CEPP was designated as a new
appropriations laws.
start for FY2020 and received appropriations to begin
construction on the CEPP South sub-project. An authorized
Table 2. Federal Funding of Everglades Restoration
project needs a new start construction designation to receive
appropriations for construction. Once designated, the
Agency
Project
FY2019
FY2020
2021 Request
project can receive appropriations annually. A new start
USACE
CERP
$97.2
$238.8
$249.7
designation is given to selected project authorizations out of
a limited number of new starts specified by Congress in
USACE
Non-CERP
$13.7
$10.1
$10.4
annual appropriations bills.
DOI
CERP
$7.8
$8.1
$7.8
Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir Storage
DOI
Non-CERP
$55.9
$55.9
$45.8
Project. The Water Resources Development Act of 2018
(WRDA 2018; Title I of P.L. 115-270) authorized the
Source: South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, 2020.
Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir Storage Project
Notes: Funding is in mil ions of dol ars. CERP = Comprehensive
(EAA Storage), which nonfederal sponsors proposed as an
Everglades Restoration Plan; DOI = Department of the Interior; USACE
addendum to CEPP. EAA Storage aims to provide
= U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
approximately 350,000 acre-feet of storage for water flows
coming from Lake Okeechobee and a stormwater treatment
Lake Okeechobee/Herbert Hoover Dike. Repairs to
area (i.e., a wetland area that removes excess nutrients from
Herbert Hoover Dike (HH Dike) are not categorized as
runoff to improve water quality). USACE interpreted the
Everglades restoration but are considered by many
EAA Storage authorization in WRDA 2018 to require a
observers to be essential to broader restoration efforts in the
new start designation for appropriations. The agency
Greater Everglades ecosystem. Since 2007, USACE has
asserted that EAA Storage was not authorized as part of
conducted repairs on HH Dike to address structural issues
CEPP and therefore must be designated as a separate new
associated with the dike and has regulated water storage
start for construction appropriations. This has led some
and discharges from Lake Okeechobee. Repairs altered
stakeholders to express concern that competition between
discharge regulations and increased discharges from the
other ecosystem restoration authorizations for a new start
lake during high-water events. This contributed to an excess
designation could delay construction of EAA Storage.
flow of nutrient-rich water through canals to the St. Lucie
and Caloosahatchee estuaries, which exacerbated harmful
Congressional Interest
algal blooms and increased sediment in the estuaries and
Congress has focused on authorization and appropriations
surrounding coastlines.
for constructing projects and on oversight of Everglades
restoration and related projects affecting water flows.
According to USACE, repairs of HH Dike eventually are to
increase Lake Okeechobee’s capacity to store water and
Water Resources Development Act. Congress is
regulate discharges and could reduce negative
considering WRDA bills (H.R. 7575 and S. 3591) in the
environmental effects. However, until these repairs are
116th Congress. These bills would authorize the
complete, discharges may negatively affect the health of
Loxahatchee River Watershed Project under CERP for
coastal ecosystems. Some stakeholders have proposed to
$740.0 million (50-50 cost share between the federal and
accelerate repairs by increasing funding for the project. In
nonfederal sponsor). H.R. 7575 would combine CEPP and
addition to annual appropriations, this project received $514
EAA Storage into one project to avoid the need for a new
million in FY2018 supplemental funding.
start designation for EAA Storage. S. 3591 would prohibit
CERP projects from being de-authorized before 2030 and
As of 2020, USACE anticipates dike repairs to be
would authorize USACE to enter into agreements for
completed by 2022, resulting in new discharge regulations
nonfederal sponsors to pursue CERP project construction
to be issued under the Lake Okeechobee System Operating
on their own and receive USACE technical assistance.
Manual. Section 1106 of WRDA 2018 directed USACE to
expedite the update of the Lake Okeechobee regulation
Appropriations. According to the 2018 Seventh Biennial
schedule so it would coincide with completion of the
Review of Everglades Restoration, funding is a key
repairs. The schedule is to consider relevant aspects of
constraint on the rate of restoration progress. The federal
CERP, including projects not yet constructed (e.g., EAA
appropriations process dictates the timing and level of
Storage) in its operating procedures. H.R. 7575 would
funding, which affect project implementation and
provide further direction to USACE on efforts to manage
completion.
water within Lake Okeechobee.
Pervaze A. Sheikh, Specialist in Natural Resources Policy
In FY2019 and FY2020, Congress provided appropriations
Anna E. Normand, Analyst in Natural Resources Policy
for restoration activities to USACE exceeding the
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Recent Developments in Everglades Restoration

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