Accelerating construction on the EAA Reservoir Project by a full year and a half is a giant leap forward. This Governing Board is fully committed to implementing Governor DeSantis' Executive Order and advancing this critical Everglades restoration project in a timely manner. This acceleration demonstrates that commitment."
– Chauncey Goss, SFWMD Governing Board Chairman
In 2008, then Governor Charlie Crist negotiated a deal with U.S. Sugar for Florida to purchase all of the lands in the EAA owned by the Sugar giant. The deal was an elegant solution that would allow the state enough land to build the EAA Reservoir and marsh system, as envisioned in the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). This was the missing link, the land required to restore the flow of water into the Everglades and Florida Bay. By 2011 however, the deal fell apart and US Sugar was no longer a willing seller. Florida was back to square one on the EAA Reservoir, a tremendous setback for Everglades restoration.
Then, in 2016, Senate President Joe Negron championed SB10 through the Florida Legislature, advancing the Reservoir and Everglades restoration by leaps and bounds. But we still needed the State and Federal funding necessary to begin the project.
A New Timeline for More Water Storage South of Lake Okeechobee
Two days after he was sworn in as Florida's 46th Governor, Ron DeSantis made expediting the completion of the EAA Storage Reservoir a key priority with one of his first Executive Orders, Executive Order 19-12. The order instructs SFWMD to start the next phase of design work on the project and ensure the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approves the project according to schedule. But without funding, even the best-designed project cannot be built.
Fast forward to May 2019, at the urging of the entire Florida Delegation and Governor Ron DeSantis, the Trump Administration included $200 million in their budget request to Congress to fund Everglades restoration. In addition, Governor DeSantis, and the Florida Legislature prioritized Everglades restoration in the Governor's first budget and now for the first time, we have the federal and state funding required to move forward with this critical element of Everglades restoration.
About the EAA Reservoir
The EAA reservoir project was conditionally authorized in the federal Water Resources Development Act of 2000 as a component of CERP. To accelerate progress on the project, Senate Bill 10 was passed by the Florida Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott in 2017. In 2018, the U.S. Congress provided the required federal authorization and approved a plan developed by the South Florida Water Management District.
The project includes a combination of canals, stormwater treatment areas (STAs), and a storage reservoir—all intended to improve water quality in America’s Everglades. SFWMD expects to begin the full design of the A-2 Stormwater Treatment Area (STA) component of the project soon and is working to obtain state and federal permits to clear land for the construction of a canal for the project. Right now, critical site preparation and preliminary design work is underway.