KEYS NEWS: Critics push back on reservoir plan process

Keys News: Written by Chuck Wickenhofer. December 20, 2017. 

SOUTH FLORIDA — Environmental groups invested in Everglades restoration have raised major concerns over four options the South Florida Water Management District is considering for a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee designed to store and filter water for eventual delivery to the Everglades and Florida Bay.

The SFMWD board met last week, and federal policy chief Matt Morrison presented the models under consideration, two of which call for a 240,000 acre-foot reservoir, while the other two would be 360,000 acre-feet. Treatment facilities for stormwater are also part of the plans, a version of which is scheduled to be presented on the first day of next year’s legislative session.

With that Jan. 9 deadline to present a workable option as well the cost of the chosen plan to the Florida Legislature rapidly approaching, SFWMD is under a time crunch to choose a design that will both come in under $1.6 billion — the amount designated to be shared 50-50 between the district and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — and whose footprint will be modest enough to fit into land the state current owns.

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