The group discussed the synergy between Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) projects and the need for additional storage, treatment, and conveyance of water south, while recognizing the need to achieve the project objectives outlined in the CERP.
After leaving the mouth of the river, the fleet headed northwest into Pine Island Sound and Matlacha Pass and stopped near a large oyster reef. While anchored along the reef, Eric Milbrandt took a group to explore it, explaining oyster reef ecology and the impacts the freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee are having on the coastal ecosystems of Southwest Florida. Commissioner Russell took great interest in the west coast issues and discussed opportunities for partnering with the City of Miami to reduce the damaging discharges to the Caloosahatchee—moving more water south, thereby restoring the Everglades ecosystem and helping recharge aquifers for water supply along the lower-east coast.
Before heading back to the dock, the group talked about the many challenges ahead, as well as the opportunities, in working together towards this common goal. The tour participants all felt that this may be the start of a great partnership.