KEYS NEWS: Reservoir alternatives revealed as size debate continues

Keys News: Written by Chuck Wickenhofer. December 27, 2017.

SOUTH FLORIDA — Tensions involving a proposed reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee designed to alleviate pollution concerns and send water south to the Everglades and Florida Bay were palpable at an Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir meeting hosted by the South Florida Water Management District last Thursday.

At issue is the size and potential effectiveness of the reservoir along with the amount of land necessary to complete the project. Environmental groups have expressed concern that the current models aren’t adequate enough to meet the “optimal configuration” requirement laid out in Senate Bill 10, passed earlier this year by the Florida Legislature to enable the expedited construction of the reservoir, whose purpose is to store water from Lake Okeechobee that would otherwise be discharged into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries.

Others who live in areas that may be affected by the acquisition of more land for the reservoir say that the plan is a ruse sprung by environmental groups and “coastal elites” after the bill’s passage in order to punish their longtime rival, the sugar industry, which owns much of the EAA property an expanded reservoir would be built on.

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