Environmental groups working to restore Florida Everglades were delighted to learn Wednesday, that $1.1 billion has been earmarked from the federal infrastructure program to help pay for the massive, multidecade restoration.
Kelly Cox, Audubon Floridas Director for Everglades Funding, stated that this investment in Everglades restoration was unparalleled. We are thrilled to have this funding and look forward to the many ecological benefits it will bring for the Everglades ecosystem.
The White House stated that the $1.1billion investment in Everglades restoration was the largest ever. The $600 million for Everglades Restoration will be added to the budget proposal by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The money will be used in order to speed up efforts to repair the environmental damage Everglades suffered during the 1900s. In a massive water management and flood control program, the Army Corps constructed locks, canals and levees before the devastating environmental effects of such efforts were fully realized.
Everglades Restoration is focused on improving water quality and quantity.
The South Florida Water Management District is currently building a 6,500-acre, wetland to treat water contaminated with nutrient pollutant and other agricultural pollutants. Nearby, the Army Corps is creating a reservoir that will hold enough water from the lake to submerge 240,000 football fields.
Together with a number of canals, the treatment and storage basins were designed to reduce the untreated water released from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee or St. Lucie rivers. This has resulted in blue-green algae blooms as well as other water-quality issues in both watersheds. The reservoir complex will also send clean water south to restore the historical flow of water through Everglades and provide additional water supply for many of the nine millions people who rely on the basin to drink water.
Eric Eikenberg CEO of the non-profit Everglades Foundation said that the reservoir will be a benefit to all of South Florida. It will reduce harmful discharges from the coast estuaries and provide water for the Florida Bay and America’s Everglades. Too many South Florida residents have suffered from toxic discharges, algal blooms, fish deaths, economic losses, and a dry Everglades National Park.
The federal government’s $1.1 billion commitment to Everglades restoration is a huge honor for the Everglades Foundation.
The $1.1 billion President Joe Biden has set aside for Everglades Restoration represents a small portion of the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The legislation is bipartisan, but every Florida Republican member in Congress voted against. The spending measure is intended to help rebuild the nation’s failing bridges, roads, modernize its power grid, prepare it for environmental challenges caused by climate change and send tens million dollars to transportation from Amtrack to airports.
Other priorities for the restoration of the Everglades include tackling exotic species that have overtaken the natural order in marshes and uplands. The prevention of saltwater intrusion is important, as well as increasing nesting success of wading bird species and mitigating environmental damage caused by development to the east and west.
Since nobody is suggesting moving Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Naples, or Fort Myers, the entire Everglades will never be returned. A small section of New Jersey is still left.
Gov. DeSantis also proposed an additional $500,000,000 in his budget to address climate change and rising seas.
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