SFWMD Celebrates Ground Breaking to Support Everglades Restoration and Mitigate Flooding
South Florida - Monday December 12, 2022: The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers joined other federal, state, and local officials as well as stakeholders to break ground on the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) New Water Seepage Barrier Wall Project, which extends the successful underground wall that was built as part of the 8.5 Square Mile Area Seepage Wall Project.
The project supports ongoing restoration efforts to move water south through the Everglades and into Florida Bay while mitigating potential flooding impacts in communities outside of Everglades National Park.
“With the strong support and resources from Gov. Ron DeSantis, the South Florida Water Management District is committed to advancing Everglades restoration," said "Alligator Ron" Bergeron, South Florida Water Management District Governing Board Member. “We completed Phase I of this project in September, and now just three months later, we are now breaking ground on the next phase that helps keep even more water in Everglades National Park. By keeping water in the park where its needed, water stays away from nearby neighborhoods. Thank you to our partners at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for working with us to expedite this project to benefit the global Everglades. Long live the Everglades!”
“The Everglades Foundation commends Governor Ron DeSantis and the South Florida Water Management District for continuing to advance important Everglades projects,” said Eric Eikenberg, CEO of The Everglades Foundation. “This seepage wall is essential to keeping water in Everglades National Park while protecting adjacent neighborhoods. This feature will also allow us to send water south to Florida Bay where it belongs.”
“Moving more water south through the Everglades to Florida Bay supports overall Everglades restoration goals,” said Adam Blalock, DEP Deputy Secretary for Ecosystem Restoration. “Thanks to the leadership of Governor DeSantis and the steadfast work of our partners, we are able to continue our forward momentum with critical projects like this, that will not only mitigate flooding in a portion of the Las Palmas community, but it will also prevent water from leaking (seeping) out of Everglades National Park.”
“We are excited to be partners with the South Florida Water Management District on the first substantial project for CEPP New Water,” said Lt. Col. Todd Polk, the Deputy Commander for South Florida for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District. “This will make it possible for us to deliver additional water south across Tamiami Trail.”
“Today’s groundbreaking of the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) New Water Seepage Barrier Wall marks another meaningful step forward in our journey to restore America’s Everglades," said Cara Capp, Senior Everglades Program Manager, National Parks Conservation Association. "This underground infrastructure will keep more clean water in the Everglades – particularly in the dry season when it is desperately needed. Park advocates look forward to the day when the benefits of multi-billion dollar investments in ecosystem restoration can be fully realized and clean water flows south to Everglades National Park and Florida Bay.”
The CEPP New Water Seepage Barrier Wall Project adds five miles of underground seepage wall along the L-357 Levee. SFWMD completed the 2.3-mile first phase of the wall earlier this year and the project is already demonstrating success. During heavy rain events, water that typically would flood communities remained inside Everglades National Park to support the park’s historic hydrology.
By supporting restoration flows of water through the Greater Everglades Ecosystem, the new underground wall supports the Combined Operating Plan (COP) and new infrastructure being put in place throughout the Everglades that delivers more water into Everglades National Park and Florida Bay—two key areas that need increased flows of water.
Since Governor DeSantis signed Executive Order 19-12 in January 2019, the South Florida Water Management District received record state investments to advance Everglades restoration and infrastructure projects while improving water quality and management. Florida continues demonstrating historic progress on several key priority ecosystem restoration projects including the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir Project.