On Feb. 23, SCCF CEO James Evans and Environmental Policy Director Matt DePaolis attended the initial groundbreaking of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir, a major component of the decades-long, multibillion dollar Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.
CEO James Evans and Environmental Policy Director Matt DePaolis stand with Col. James Booth and Lt. Col. Todd Polk from the U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers in front of a massive pile of granite that will form an impermeable layer in the reservoir.
“SCCF was very excited to participate in the groundbreaking of this vital reservoir,” Evans said. “The South Florida Water Management District and U.S. Army Corps have been working hard for years to move this foundational project forward.”
Once the EAA Reservoir is complete, along with its associated stormwater treatment areas, the South Florida Water Management District will have the added capacity to store and treat water from Lake Okeechobee before ultimately sending it south to the Everglades.
“This 240,000 acre-foot reservoir will take significant pressure off of the Caloosahatchee,” DePaolis said. “By diverting polluted water from the lake, we will be able to reduce the number of damaging discharges we receive.”
The EAA Reservoir Project has had a long history filled with uncertainty and mired in litigation and politics. It wasn’t until 2018 when the coastal communities of the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries were devastated by harmful algal blooms, including blue-green algae and red tide, that the State of Florida made the project a top priority.
There have been several challenges since, and in September 2022, SCCF joined six partner organizations in signing an amicus brief filed by the Everglades Law Center to keep the sugar industry from succeeding with a lawsuit that threatened the project.
“The EAA Reservoir will mean less nutrient pollution in our river, cleaner water in our estuaries, and a lowered risk of devastating algal blooms,” DePaolis said.