More than $10.4 billion in disaster relief funding was approved by Congress in February to assist the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) with infrastructure and flood control projects necessitated by hurricane damage and impacts to Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. The USACE is currently working on a list of projects for these funds. In Florida, mandatory evacuations were issued to those living south of Lake Okeechobee in advance of Hurricane Irma over concerns about the integrity of the Herbert Hoover Dike as the Lake rose to critically high levels.
Rehabilitation of the Dike has been ongoing for many years and is halfway complete. Approximately, $800 million is necessary to complete the repairs in a timely manner. Completion of this project would allow for better regulation of Lake levels and discharge events and free future appropriations for true Everglades restoration projects. ASA recently spearheaded a letter with our partner organizations to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works requesting that the disaster appropriations be used to fully fund the rehabilitation of the Dike, along with other qualifying Everglades projects. ASA continues to advocate for increased federal funding for Everglades restoration projects.
The South Florida Water Management District has submitted the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) Post Authorization Change Report (PACR) for the Everglades Agricultural Area Storage Reservoir to the USACE for review and approval, which is expected by September 2018. Once approved by the USACE, the CEPP PACR must be authorized by Congress to be available for federal funding. This authorization typically occurs through a biennial Water Resources Development Act bill. Congress is expected to move a WRDA bill this year, and ASA is actively engaged in the process to ensure that the CEPP PACR is included to expedite project funding and construction.
For more information, please contact Florida Fisheries Policy Director, Kellie Ralston.