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Groundbreaking on the "True Heart" of All Everglades Restoration Projects

From Left to Right: Cara Capp, National Parks Conservation Association; Director Drew Bartlett, SFWMD; Board Member "Alligator Ron" Bergeron, SFWMD; Lt. Col. Todd Polk, USACE - Jacksonville District; Chairman Chauncey Goss, SFWMD; Board Member Charlette Roman, SFWMD; Deputy Secretary Adam Blalock, DEP; Board Member Jay Steinle, SFWMD; Board Member Cheryl Meads, SFWMD

Everglades - Thursday May 18, 2023: Ground was broken Thursday morning on what officials said was "the true heart" of Everglades restoration.

The Central Everglades Planning Project, known as CEPP, is the first of a number of projects designed to capture water and re-direct the flow into the central Everglades and onto Florida Bay.

“Right now, water from the north enters one spot. That’s not how it used to be," said Drew Bartlett, South Florida Water Management District Director. "This project is going to move the water where it needs to be which is to the north end of the central Everglades. This is the first of many projects that actually restores the habitat of the Everglades."

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It involves the construction pumping stations, seepage barriers, gated structures, and improvements to existing levees and canals, as well as construction of a new canal. All of it needed to capture water and direct the flow south.

“This is the true heart of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan," said U.S. Army Corps Lt. Col. Todd Polk. "This is what ultimately helps us send the water south. This infrastructure will help distribute the water, re-direct that natural sheet flow, to the historic Everglades.”

And there is more to it than the conservation of a great natural resource. As Water Management Board Member Jay Steinle said, restoration efforts are vital for the Florida economy as well. “I certainly recognize the critical role that Everglades plays in Florida’s economy. A healthy eco-system is key, and as a governing board member, we are laser focused on sending more water south.”

In the past few years, over 50 Everglades Restoration projects have broken ground, reached a major milestone or completed construction.


READ the release from the South Florida Water Management District in FULL below:

Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) North Phase Breaks Ground to Help Restore the Central Everglades

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. - Today, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Jacksonville District (USACE) joined federal, state, and local officials to break ground on the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) North. This important Everglades restoration project will restore water levels in the northern portion of the Central Everglades and improve our water resource resiliency in South Florida.

The CEPP North Phase is a component of the larger suite of projects within CEPP. CEPP restores water levels in the Central Everglades (Water Conservation Areas), which make up nearly half of the land mass in Broward County, and ultimately help deliver more water south to replenish our aquifers and nourish the Everglades and Florida Bay. CEPP is a key part of the joint state-federal partnership to restore America’s Everglades known as the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP).

“Today, we break ground and celebrate another important milestone for America's Everglades. Thanks to the leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis and support of the Florida Legislature, the SFWMD continues advancing Everglades restoration projects across the state,” said SFWMD Governing Board Member Jay Steinle. “Sending more water to the Central Everglades will benefit the Everglades ecosystem while also helping reduce harmful Lake Okeechobee discharges to our estuaries, enhancing the resiliency of our drinking water supply, and protecting Florida's natural resources for future generations. We appreciate our partnerships with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Jacksonville District and Florida Department of Environmental Protection that make milestones like this possible today.”

“The Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) is vital to restoring the hydrology of the Central Everglades and sending water south to Florida Bay,” said Adam Blalock, DEP Deputy Secretary for Ecosystem Restoration. “Governor Ron DeSantis’ leadership and unwavering support over the last four years has helped to expedite an unprecedented amount of Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan projects. As CEPP North commences, we are marking yet another historical day in the name of Everglades restoration.”

“The Corps and the Water Management District have been working collectively on construction for three of the four phases of the Central Everglades Planning Project – CEPP EAA, CEPP South, and CEPP New Water. We are happy to see our partners begin construction on CEPP North, the last of the four phases required to restore the Central Everglades. It’s incredibly important that all phases of the Central Everglades Planning Project are now under construction,” said Lt. Col. Todd Polk, Deputy Commander for South Florida for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District. “CEPP is truly the heart of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. It will restore much of the remaining natural, historic, ridge and slough landscape of the classic Everglades.”
"The future of Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve depends on the success of projects upstream, which is why today’s groundbreaking for Central Everglades Planning Project North is so significant. Getting more water flowing to the conservation areas at the heart of the ecosystem ensures a healthier and more resilient Greater Everglades," said Cara Capp, Senior Everglades Program Manager, National Parks Conservation Association. "Our treasured national parks in South Florida and connected lands and waterways across the state are one step closer to lasting restoration today. We are proud to join the South Florida Water Management District in celebrating this important groundbreaking and look forward to seeing the ecosystem thrive in the years ahead."

The features within the CEPP plan include a reservoir, a stormwater treatment area and water flow improvements. CEPP is being implemented in four phases: CEPP North, CEPP South, CEPP EAA, and CEPP New Water. With today’s groundbreaking, all phases of CEPP are now construction.

Thanks to historic levels of state funding for Everglades restoration, the SFWMD continues to expedite and advance projects that improve water management across South Florida. This momentum is making a measurable difference to restore America's Everglades as record flows of water south benefit our ecosystems, communities, and drinking water aquifers.