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SCCF Attends Ribbon Cutting for Everglades Restoration Project

April 25, 2024
everglades seepage wall ribbon cutting

On April 24, Everglades stakeholders journeyed to the eastern edge of the greater Everglades to attend a ribbon cutting for the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) new Water Seepage Barrier Wall. 

“The event took place overlooking the sprawl of the Everglades, without any wall in sight — because this ‘wall’ is completely underground,” said SCCF Environmental Policy Director Matt DePaolis, who attended the ribbon cutting.  

From left, SCCF Environmental Policy Director Matt DePaolis and South Florida Ecosystem Task Force Member and Sanibel Councilwoman Holly Smith.

The wall supports ongoing restoration efforts to move water south through the Everglades and into Florida Bay while mitigating potential flooding impacts in communities outside of Everglades National Park. It was completed eight months ahead of schedule. 

“The barrier will help prevent seepage that is hindering the rehydration of the Shark River Slough, which channels water through the Florida Everglades and ultimately into the Florida Bay,” DePaolis explained.

To create the seepage wall, the South Florida Water Management District essentially cut a 60-foot-deep trench and filled it with enough of concrete grout to fill the Washington monument three times, he said.  

The total seepage wall — which connects with an initial 2.3-mile portion built in 2022 — is approximately 7.3 miles long, 63 feet deep and 30 inches wide.

“Now complete, the wall keeps the water in the Everglades and ensures that we can rehydrate the park, protecting vital tree islands and wading bird populations, along with allowing us to move larger volumes of water underneath the Tamiami Trail,” DePaolis said.

Miccosukee Tribe Chief of Staff Curtis Osceola

The local Miccosukee Tribe uses the health of these tree islands and wading bird populations as indicators for the overall health of the Everglades ecosystem, so this project is an example of successfully balancing the needs of the environment and nearby communities, said Miccosukee Tribe Chief of Staff Curtis Osceola during the ribbon cutting.

Other leaders spoke at the ribbon cutting, including Executive Director of the South Florida Water Management District Drew Bartlett, Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez, Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Shawn Hamilton, and CEO of the Everglades Foundation Eric Eikenberg.

In the past five years, 70 groundbreakings, project completions, and other milestones have been made toward the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, the overarching multibillion-dollar Everglades restoration plan passed by congress in 2000.


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