Lake Okeechobee is at the center of a new battle that’s pitting the federal government against clean water advocates.
The Everglades Agricultural Area Storage Reservoir Project, commonly known as the EAA reservoir, has long been seen as the saving grace for cleaning up our waterways.
Once built, water would be stored south of Lake Okeechobee, lessening the need for discharges into the Caloosahatchee.
But now, Capt. Daniel Andrews is the co-founder and exec. director of Captains for Clean water and is worried about new delays, “It’s another one of many bureaucratic delays that we’ve seen in the history of Everglades restoration.”
Now, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees the reservoir component of the construction, has identified the reservoir as a ‘new start’ project meaning it needs a ‘new start’ designation before the corps can set aside any construction money.
John Campbell with the USACE Jacksonville District said “We will move forward on reservoir design in 2021 as well, and then, should Congress take action that allows us to consider the EAA Reservoir for construction to start in 2021, certainly we will consider that.”
The decision doesn’t affect this fiscal year, however, it could impact 2021.
South Florida Water Management District governing board chairman Chauncey Goss remains positive about the project, “I think that it’s probably a priority for the army corps of engineers also, and there may be hiccups along the way, but I think we’ll work this out and hopefully there won’t be any delays.”
The road to Everglades restoration hasn’t been a straight path, but groups passionate about our water hope to keep moving forward.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tells us, based on the funding it expects to receive in the next five to ten years, it is confident it will meet the EAA Reservoir completion deadline in 2028.