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ICYMI: Rubio: After Decades of Delay, Everglades Restoration Is Starting to Yield Real Results

Dec 14, 2020 | Comunicados de Prensa

After 20 years, progress on the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan is starting to yield results 
By U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)
December 11, 2020
Sun Sentinel
This month, Floridians mark 20 years since Congress approved a federal-state framework to guide our efforts to restore the Everglades, a framework known as the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, or CERP.
Unfortunately, in the early years, each CERP project required congressional approval, which meant initial progress was slow. As a result, headlines like the 2008 Sun Sentinel story “Red tape, lack of money stall Everglades work” regularly appeared on our doorsteps.
That changed in 2016, after my good friend and then-chairman of the Senate Committee on Environmental and Public Works, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), became a proponent of Everglades restoration. In an op-ed supporting a package of CERP projects called the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP), Inhofe wrote, “[m]y opposition to this important project has since changed, largely in part to my friend and colleague Sen. Marco Rubio.”
Securing passage of CEPP greenlit new projects in support of restoration goals and allowed us to make real progress over the past several years. Once complete, these components will be critical tools for directing more clean water south to the central Everglades, Everglades National Park, and ultimately, Florida Bay, where it’s desperately needed.
In 2018, Congress improved the CEPP and approved construction of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Storage Reservoir. Not only will the reservoir assist with the distribution of clean water to Everglades National Park, it will also minimize the threat that harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee pose to our coastal communities.
Breakthroughs have also extended to the Tamiami Trail project, where we have succeeded in raising miles of road to allow water to flow freely, reducing disruption to the ecosystem.
In 2017 and 2018, I worked to expedite and secure full funding for the Herbert Hoover Dike renovation, which is on track to be completed in 2022. Reinforcing the dike will provide additional flexibility to water managers, and help prevent harmful discharges to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers.
And the Kissimmee River Restoration Project is nearly complete. This project is designed to restore the flow of the river along its natural path and replenish nearly 20,000 acres of wetlands along the river’s floodplain to remove excess nutrients before waters empty into Lake Okeechobee. This will greatly help in healing the greater Everglades system.
If we can continue this momentum, we will realize our long-sought goal of restoring, preserving and protecting south Florida’s singular ecosystem while equitably and effectively managing our region’s water resources.
Congress also needs to pass a new Water Resources Development Act to authorize the Loxahatchee River Watershed Restoration Project, allow the completion of the Caloosahatchee Storage Reservoir, support progress on the South Dade project, and fight the threat of invasive species.
We also need this bill to correct the errors made by the Army Corps of Engineers, which decided the EAA Reservoir project must pass through additional bureaucratic obstacles before construction can commence. As this year ends, I am fighting to reiterate Congress’ intent for this critical project and allow construction to begin without delay.
The tasks ahead are substantial, but the goal is too important to stop fighting. Make no mistake: After decades of delay, Everglades restoration is starting to yield real results.