USACE critical agreement moves Everglades restoration forward
June 11, 2010
- Landmark agreement needed to maintain progress and momentum on the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan was signed.
- Project will provide water storage essential to the Everglades health and viability.
- The project will provide effective water management and is funded by ARRA.
<b>JACKSONVILLE, Fla.</b> - June 10, The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District entered into the latest in a series of landmark agreements needed to maintain progress and momentum on the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.
The signing of a project partnership agreement (PPA) will allow construction of the first phase of a 1,600-acre water storage reservoir, the Site 1 Impoundment Project (Fran Reich Preserve). The reservoir, located adjacent to the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Palm Beach County, Fla., will provide water storage that is considered essential to restoring the Everglades historic health and viability.
Lt. Gen. Robert L. Van Antwerp, commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, commended the Corps and Jacksonville District staff during the monthly SFWMD Governing Board meeting for their strong partnership and dedication to protecting a national treasure. Van Antwerp, who spent several days touring restoration sites in south Florida, met with a variety of representatives. He and other Corps leaders said they were impressed by the commitment shown for Everglades restoration.
"The Site 1 partnership agreement took extraordinary effort by extraordinary people in the big team, not just the Corps and SFWMD, but multiple agencies and partners," said Col. Alfred Pantano Jr., commander of USACE Jacksonville District.
Pantano praised the staff for their success in crafting a complex and detailed agreement. It contains the many legal and technical conditions and requirements associated with project construction.
"The project is a great opportunity not only for the Everglades as a system, but for the refuge itself," said Sylvia Pelizza, Fish and Wildlife Service project leader for the Loxahatchee Refuge. "The project increases our flexibility in managing water. It will allow us to capture and hold water so that we don't have to send it to tide when we have too much, and it will also be available during the dry season to recharge groundwater. We don't have to take water from the refuge for other purposes."
The Site 1 project, a component of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, will capture and store excess surface water runoff from the Hillsboro watershed as well as releases from the Loxahatchee Refuge and Lake Okeechobee. It will benefit the refuge, lake and the estuarine portion of the Hillsboro Canal, as well as supplement local water supply.
"Everglades restoration is dependent on 'getting the water right'," said Stu Appelbaum, deputy for the Everglades Restoration Program. "This means getting water in the right quantity, quality, timing and distribution. To do this, we must add water storage capacity to the system. This reservoir will do exactly that."
Located in the Hillsboro Canal Basin, the project will supplement water deliveries to the Hillsboro Canal by capturing and storing excess water currently discharged to the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. These supplemental deliveries will reduce demands on the Loxahatchee refuge. The impoundment will also provide groundwater recharge, reduce seepage from adjacent natural areas, and prevent saltwater intrusion by releasing impounded water back to the Hillsboro Canal when conditions dictate.
The Corps of Engineers will construct the reservoir through two separate construction contracts. The Corps has already initiated the contractor bidding process for the first contract, which is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Corps anticipates a contract award prior to Sept. 30 and ground-breaking before the end of 2010.