SCCF Submits Comments Supporting Progression of Western Everglades Restoration Project
Purple gallinule in the Everglades by Judy Gallagher
SCCF’s environmental policy team recently submitted comments to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers advocating for the Western Everglades Restoration Project (WERP) to be included in the 2024 Water Development Resources Act.
WERP is a component of the federal, multibillion dollar Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan that seeks to improve water quality, quantity, timing, and distribution across the Western Everglades to help re-establish its connectivity with the greater Everglades ecosystem.
WERP is largely still in the planning phase, and the Army Corps plans to finalize its Project Implementation Report and Environmental Impact Statement for the project by March of this year. SCCF’s comments are in response to the draft version of these documents.
Authorizing WERP under the biennial Water Development Resources Act (WDRA) “will allow the project to move forward so that the requisite planning can occur,” wrote SCCF Environmental Policy Director Matt DePaolis.
WDRA has been enacted by congress every two years since 2014 to authorize studies, projects, and research activities under the Secretary of the Army that can improve rivers and harbors in the U.S. Essentially, the WDRA better enables the Army Corps to keep making progress toward its projects, and not authorizing WERP under the 2024 WDRA would mean delays restoring the Western Everglades until the 2026 version of the bill.
“Rehydrating the Western Everglades is essential for the health of the system and moving water towards Florida Bay where it will help to regulate temperature and support the seagrass growth that is necessary for the robust fin fisheries that all South Floridians rely on in our tourism-based economies,” SCCF wrote.