Recent Developments in Everglades Restoration




Updated January 6, 2021
Recent Developments in Everglades Restoration
Overview

Table 1. Status of Recent CERP USACE Projects
What Is the Everglades? The Everglades is a unique
Construction
network of subtropical wetlands in South Florida. Due in
Project Name
Authorization
Status
part to federal water supply and flood control projects (as
well as agricultural and urban runoff), the ecosystem was
Site 1 Impoundment
WRDA 2007
Phase 1 completed
degraded and was approximately half its historical size by
Phase II on hold
the end of the 20th century. The ecosystem is home to a
Picayune Strand
WRDA 2007
Under construction
number of unique species, including 67 species listed under
the Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. §§1531 et. seq.).
Indian River Lagoon-
WRDA 2007
Under construction
South
What Is CERP? The Comprehensive Everglades
C-43 West Storage
WRRDA 2014
Under construction
Restoration Plan (CERP) was approved by Congress in the
Basin
Water Resources Development Act of 2000 (WRDA 2000;
P.L. 106-541). It is a framework under which the federal
C-111 Spreader
WRRDA 2014
Phase 1 completed
government, with the State of Florida, is attempting to
Canal
Phase 2 in planning
restore the Everglades and improve the timing, distribution,
WRRDA 2014
Under construction
and quality of the water flowing south from Lake
Broward County
Okeechobee to the Everglades. Under CERP, the federal
Water Preserve
government, through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Areas
(USACE) and the Department of the Interior (DOI), is
Biscayne Bay Coastal
WRRDA 2014
Under construction
required to fund half the costs of restoration, with the State
Wetlands
of Florida contributing the other half. Several tribal and
local agencies also are involved in restoration. Originally,
Central Everglades
WRDA 2016
Under construction
CERP was to include 60 projects that would be completed
Planning Project
over 30 years at a cost of $8.2 billion (in 2000 dollars).
(CEPP)
Subsequent reports to Congress projected that CERP would
Everglades
WRDA 2018
Awaiting federal
take approximately 50 years since its authorization to
Agricultural Area
construction
implement at a total cost of $23.2 billion (in FY2020
Reservoir Storage
dollars). As of FY2020, the federal government has spent
more than $1.7 billion, and the State of Florida has spent an
Loxahatchee River
WRDA 2020
Awaiting
estimated $4.5 billion on CERP in nominal dollars
Watershed Project
construction
(although much of this state funding is not yet officially
Lake Okeechobee
n/a
Study in progress
credited for Florida’s share of the cost).
Watershed Project
Western Everglades
n/a
Study in progress
CERP is expected to cost $23.2 bil ion (FY2020
Restoration Project
dol ars) and take 50 years to complete.
Biscayne Bay SE
n/a
Study in progress
Outside of CERP, complementary efforts to restore the
Everglades
Everglades (most of which predate CERP) are ongoing. The
federal government has spent more than $3.5 billion on
Southern Everglades
n/a
Study in progress
these efforts, collectively referred to as non-CERP projects.
Source: Congressional Research Service based on the 2015 – 2020
Report to Congress and enacted legislation.
CERP Projects Must Be Authorized by Congress
Note: WRDA = Water Resources and Development Act. n/a = not
WRDA 2000 approved CERP and the process for its
applicable. WRDA 2007, WRDA 2016, WRDA 2018, and WRDA
implementation. The law also authorized several pilot
2020 are P.L. 110-114, P.L. 114-322, P.L. 115-270, and Division AA of
projects. Subsequent projects require study by USACE and
P.L. 116-260, respectively. WRRDA 2014 = Water Resources
congressional authorization before they can receive federal
Reform and Development Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-121).
appropriations for construction, including credit or
reimbursement for nonfederal work undertaken in advance.
Recent Authorizations
Several laws subsequent to WRDA 2000 authorized
Central Everglades Planning Project. The Central
projects 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
CERP projects are in progress (see ).
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
FY2020 enacted levels (see Table 2). DOI conducts science
CEPP New Water) in the central portion of the Everglades
to support restoration, as well as manages and restores
and aims to address issues associated with the quantity,
wildlife habitat in the ecosystem. Congress provided the
quality, timing, and distribution of freshwater flows south
Administration’s request of $260.1 million for USACE
of Lake Okeechobee into the central Everglades and
Everglades restoration projects in FY2021. USACE also
Everglades National Park. Congress designated CEPP as a
may direct additional funding provided by Congress to
new start for FY2020 and provided appropriations to begin
these activities when the agency develops its work plan.
construction on the CEPP South sub-project. A new start
Specific totals and the breakdown for CERP and non-CERP
designation is given to selected project authorizations out of
projects will be available upon release of the FY2021 work
a limited number that Congress specifies in appropriations
plan.
bills. An authorized project needs a new start construction
designation to receive appropriations for construction. Once
Table 2. Federal Funding of Everglades Restoration
designated, the project can receive appropriations annually.
Agency
Project
FY2019
FY2020
2021 Request
Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir Storage
USACE
CERP
$97.2
$238.8
$249.7
Project. The Water Resources Development Act of 2018
(WRDA 2018; Title I of P.L. 115-270) authorized the
USACE
Non-CERP
$13.7
$10.1
$10.4
Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir Storage Project
DOI
CERP
$7.8
$8.1
$7.8
(EAA Storage), which nonfederal sponsors proposed as an
addendum to CEPP. EAA Storage aims to provide
DOI
Non-CERP
$55.9
$55.9
$45.8
approximately 350,000 acre-feet of storage for water flows
coming from Lake Okeechobee and a stormwater treatment
Source: South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, 2020.
area (i.e., a wetland area that removes excess nutrients from
Notes: Funding is in mil ions of dol ars and FY2021 funding breakdown is
runoff to improve water quality). USACE interpreted the
not yet available. DOI = Department of the Interior; USACE = U.S. Army
EAA Storage authorization in WRDA 2018 to require a
Corps of Engineers; CERP = Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan
new start designation for appropriations. The agency
asserted that EAA Storage was not authorized as part of
Herbert Hoover Dike/ Lake Okeechobee. Repairs to
CEPP and therefore must be designated as a separate new
Herbert Hoover Dike (HH Dike) are not categorized as
start for construction appropriations. This has led some
Everglades restoration but are considered by many
stakeholders to express concern that competition between
observers to be essential to broader restoration efforts in the
other ecosystem restoration authorizations for a new start
Greater Everglades ecosystem. Since 2007, USACE has
designation could delay construction of EAA Storage.
conducted repairs on HH Dike to address structural issues
associated with the dike. USACE also regulates water
WRDA 2020. The Water Resources Development Act of
storage and discharges from Lake Okeechobee. Repairs
2020 (WRDA 2020; Division AA of P.L. 116-260)
required USACE to alter discharge regulations and
authorized the Loxahatchee River Watershed Restoration
increased discharges from the lake during high-water
Project (CERP) for construction, modifications to the
events. This contributed to an excess flow of nutrient-rich
Caloosahatchee River West Basin Storage Reservoir
water through canals to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee
(CERP) and Canal 111 South Dade Project (non-CERP),
estuaries, which exacerbated harmful algal blooms and
and a study at Shingle Creek and Kissimmee River (non-
increased sediment in the estuaries and surrounding
CERP). To avoid needing a new start designation for EAA
coastlines. According to USACE, repairs of HH Dike aim
Storage, WRDA 2020 combined CEPP and EAA Storage
to increase Lake Okeechobee’s capacity to store water and
into one project with total authorization of $4.4 billion.
regulate discharges and could reduce negative
WRDA 2020 also authorized USACE to enter into an
environmental effects. However, until these repairs are
agreement for nonfederal sponsors to pursue construction of
complete, discharges may negatively affect the health of
one CERP project on their own. Although WRDA 2020
coastal ecosystems. Some stakeholders have proposed to
deauthorized the Big Cypress Water Conservation Plan, the
accelerate repairs by increasing funding for the project. In
law prohibited CERP projects from inclusion in its
addition to annual appropriations, this project received $514
deauthorization mechanisms.
million in FY2018 supplemental funding.
Congressional Interest
As of 2020, USACE anticipates dike repairs to be
completed by 2022, resulting in new discharge regulations
Congress has focused on (1) authorizing and funding
to be issued under the Lake Okeechobee System Operating
Everglades restoration projects and (2) oversight of project
Manual. Section 1106 of WRDA 2018 directed USACE to
implementation and impacts on water flows.
expedite the update of the Lake Okeechobee regulation
schedule to coincide with completion of HH Dike, and
Appropriations. According to the 2018 Seventh Biennial
consider all relevant aspects of CERP, including projects
Review of Everglades Restoration, funding is a key
not yet constructed (e.g., EAA Storage) in its operating
constraint on the rate of restoration progress. The federal
procedures. WRDA 2020 provided further direction to
appropriations process dictates the timing and level of
USACE on water management efforts within Lake
funding, which affect project implementation and
Okeechobee and authorized a harmful algal bloom
completion. The Administration’s FY2021 request for
demonstration program with the lake as a focus area.
USACE CERP and non-CERP projects was greater than
FY2020 enacted levels and for DOI was lower than
Pervaze A. Sheikh, Specialist in Natural Resources Policy
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Recent Developments in Everglades Restoration

Anna E. Normand, Analyst in Natural Resources Policy
IF11336


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