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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The First Biennial Review – 2006 6 An Alternative Approach to Advancing Natural System Restoration As stated in Chapter 2, the restoration of the Everglades will be best served by moving the ecosystem as quickly as possible toward biological and physical conditions that previously molded and maintained the ecosystem. However, as discussed in Chapters 3 and 5, restoration progress has been uneven and beset by delays. The state of Florida’s Acceler8 and Lake Okeechobee and Estuary Recovery programs are providing a valuable surge in the pace of project implementation, especially in the northern portions of the ecosystem and its estuaries. However, other important projects, such as the work to reestablish sheet flow in the Water Conservation Areas (WCAs) and Everglades National Park (WCA 3 Decompartmentalization and Sheet Flow—Part 1 or Decomp), are far behind the original schedule. Some of the sources of delay, such as the expansion of the aquifer storage and recovery pilot projects to address important uncertainties and the need to address extensive review comments in project planning, are in the best interest of overall restoration success. Other sources of delay, including budgetary restrictions and a project planning and authorization process that can be stalled by unresolved scientific uncertainties, need attention from senior managers and policy makers. The committee is specifically charged to discuss and evaluate scientific and engineering issues that may affect progress in achieving the natural system restoration goals of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP; see Box S-1). Its review of progress led the committee to identify two broad scientific and engineering issues that seem likely to affect the pace of restoration progress: (1) the difficulty in accommodating major scientific uncertainties in the project planning process, especially for complex and contentious ecosystem restoration projects, and (2) the sequential authorization and implementation of CERP projects. As discussed in Chapter 5, uncertainties regarding projected restoration outcomes have, so far, prevented Decomp project managers from resolving
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The First Biennial Review – 2006 disagreements about the alternative project designs. Although a bold plan has recently been initiated to address this problem in Decomp through an active adaptive management approach, Decomp planners face many challenges ahead to resolve these disputes, and the issue of uncertainty has the potential to delay other restoration projects as well. In the CERP approach to restoration implementation, projects are authorized and implemented sequentially. The Yellow Book (USACE and SFWMD, 1999) expresses the issue as follows: The large scale hydrologic improvements that will be necessary to stimulate large scale ecological improvements will only come once the features of the Comprehensive Plan which substantially increase water storage capacities of the regional system and the infrastructure needed to move this water, are in place. To the extent that certain features of the Comprehensive Plan must be in place before additional storage and distribution components can be constructed and operated, some of the major ecological improvements anticipated by the Plan will not occur in the short term…. The features of the Comprehensive Plan currently proposed to be fully implemented by 2010 include the components (e.g. seepage control, land acquisition, reservoir construction, development of water preserve areas) that must be in place to set the stage for the addition of substantial amounts of clear water into the natural system. For example, in order to bring water from the urban east coast into the natural system and avoid additional water quality problems, the features required to clean that water must be in place. In order to decompartmentalize the interior Everglades and avoid additional over-drainage problems in Lake Okeechobee and the northern Everglades, the features required to substantially increase the regional storage capacity must be in place (USACE and SFWMD, 1999). The conclusion that decompartmentalization and sheet-flow restoration cannot be initiated until most CERP projects have been completed is an important reason why environmental benefits to the Everglades ecosystem are likely to materialize slowly. Although early Acceler8 efforts have the potential to produce substantial benefits to Lake Okeechobee and the estuaries, the Yellow Book’s philosophy for CERP project sequencing suggests that several supporting projects will need to be in place before subsequent restoration efforts in the central and southern Everglades can proceed. If the public and its elected representatives in Congress and the administration are to continue to be willing to provide financial support for projects in the Everglades, they must believe that CERP expenditures are contributing to the restoration of the central and southern parts of the Everglades ecosystem, which include such iconic areas as Everglades National Park. The committee concludes that some currently delayed restoration activities for the Everglades ecosystem can be initiated now, even though the
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The First Biennial Review – 2006 ultimate scale, scope, and configuration of the restoration actions cannot be entirely known. Important incremental restoration gains can, therefore, be achieved concurrently with completion of other restoration activities. In this chapter the committee presents an alternative framework for initiating and evaluating restoration actions, here called Incremental Adaptive Restoration (IAR), which is proposed to help address these two sources of delay. INCREMENTAL ADAPTIVE RESTORATION By making incremental restoration investments, CERP managers can help accelerate restoration by facilitating decision making in spite of uncertainty and by reducing some project sequencing constraints. The initial incremental restoration actions under IAR are designed to secure environmental gains, but, equally important, they are also designed to generate improved understanding that will provide the foundation for more rapidly moving forward with restoration. IAR differs from current procedures by making greater use of active adaptive management and by more carefully targeting new investments. Although an IAR approach is consistent with the way that active adaptive management is now being advanced for the CERP (see Chapters 4 and 5), conceiving and implementing IAR differs in important ways from the Master Implementation Sequencing Plan (MISP). The current MISP investment schedule is a construction sequence of the specific projects that were formulated in broad terms and included in the Yellow Book (USACE and SFWMD, 1999). An IAR approach is not simply a reshuffling of priorities in the MISP. Instead, it reflects an incremental approach using steps that are large enough to provide some restoration and address critical scientific uncertainties, but the IAR steps would, in some cases, be smaller than the CERP projects or project components themselves, since the purpose of IAR is to take actions that promote learning that can guide the remainder of the project design. An IAR framework would enhance the active element in the CERP adaptive management strategy (see Chapter 4) and would allow new investment actions to be at least partially decoupled from the list of current CERP projects. IAR is not a new concept. Indeed, it is similar to the process being employed in the restoration of the Kissimmee River (see Chapter 5) and the process attempted in the Experimental Water Deliveries project (see Chapter 2). However, an IAR approach differs enough from current CERP procedures that implementing it would require modified approaches for project authorization and funding. Incremental investments may yield surprising short-term restoration
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The First Biennial Review – 2006 benefits and are likely to generate knowledge that can guide future decision making. Incremental restoration investments in Decomp, for example, may be possible without fully developing the prospective water storage. It may also be feasible to advance the seepage management program incrementally, but concurrently, with increases in sheet flows. More specifically, initiating some additional water delivery and sheet-flow restoration as soon as possible, accompanied by carefully targeted and well-designed monitoring, will enhance scientific understanding of the effects of the interventions. Although an IAR approach may lead to increased up-front project planning costs, the enhanced scientific understanding generated should improve the likelihood of restoration success, thereby reducing costs over the long term. Although this committee does not presume that IAR will solve all sources of delay in the progress of natural system restoration, it encourages the IAR approach to help accelerate restoration progress and overcome the technical, budgetary, and political difficulties that now accompany restoration planning. CHARACTERIZING THE BENEFITS OF IAR In the following section, potential ecosystem responses to incremental restoration investments are discussed to support the rationale for an IAR approach. As discussed in Chapter 2, restoration depends on “getting the water right,” because the amount, quality, timing, and flow of water delivered to the natural system are major determinants of its characteristics. For this conceptual discussion, hydrologic improvements include all attributes of getting the water right (i.e., the quality, quantity, timing, spatial distribution, and flow characteristics [e.g., velocity, depth]). The framework described here is based on two reasonable assumptions: (1) incremental hydrologic improvements resulting from restoration investments are likely to result in substantial benefits to ecosystem recovery and restoration and (2) IAR will yield benefits in the form of learning that will reduce the scientific uncertainties that make it difficult to design the scale, geographic scope, and operation of restoration actions. Thus, the knowledge generated by targeted investments and their operations should lead to reduced time to formulate and implement future investments and ensure their cost effectiveness. According to the Yellow Book, “the recovery of healthy ecosystems is most likely to occur in one of three ways.” Figure 6-1 shows the three response curves presented in the Yellow Book (A, B, and C) plus two additional curves added by the committee (D and E). Curve A represents the
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The First Biennial Review – 2006 FIGURE 6-1 Five hypothetical response curves that illustrate how partial or full recovery might be achieved in a natural ecosystem from incremental hydrologic improvements. The y-axis is scaled to some maximum performance measure associated with the desired end state, or “restoration.” The x-axis reflects one or more drivers of change resulting from restoration actions. For the purposes of the CERP, most of the restoration actions are intended to effect hydrologic improvements (e.g., quality, quantity, timing, distribution, flow). Incremental recoveries of the ecosystem in response to the partial hydrologic improvements occur over time; thus, time is an implicit component of this figure. These example response curves represent a subset of possible responses and could apply to a range of spatial scales. SOURCE: Adapted from USACE and SFWMD (1999). case in which recovery has a linear relationship with hydrologic improvements. Curve B represents the case in which changes in hydrologic improvements cause an initial negative response, followed by recovery. A possible example of curve B noted in the Yellow Book might occur after small increases in flows to the estuaries below Shark River Slough that may initially cause reduced densities of the large-sized fishes favored by foraging wood storks. However, higher flows maintained over longer periods should
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The First Biennial Review – 2006 eventually lead to increased numbers of prey fish above current levels (USACE and SFWMD, 1999). These initial adverse environmental effects are part of the cost of ultimately securing restoration benefits. They do not constitute a basis for rejecting actions likely to facilitate long-term restoration. Another committee reached this same conclusion when considering effects of restoration on populations of endangered birds in the Everglades watershed (SEI, 2003). Curve C in Figure 6-1 represents the case in which ecological responses do not occur until a threshold level of hydrologic improvements has been implemented. According to the Yellow Book: Most response patterns will resemble ‘C.’ It is widely believed that much of the recovery in the South Florida wetland systems will lag behind hydrologic improvements, at a wide range of mostly unknown temporal scales. Some responses may occur within months (short-term responses, e.g. shifts in periphyton species composition), some may require one to several years (mid-term responses, e.g. recovery of fish biomass), and some may require decades (long-term responses, e.g. recovery of pre-drainage soil and plant community patterns). Responses of wetland systems are likely to lag behind alterations of hydrologic patterns, but the committee believes, based on results of ecosystem restoration efforts elsewhere, that curve C is unduly pessimistic (see below). Curve D in Figure 6-1 provides another plausible response curve in which greater recovery occurs with smaller hydrologic improvements. Experience with restoring a variety of ecological systems indicates that responses of complex systems to management interventions often take a sigmoid form in which small investments yield little benefit, but that once a threshold is reached, benefits accrue rapidly with incremental investments (Figure 6-1, curve E). The primary reason for sigmoid responses is that improvements in one component of a system often stimulate rapid responses in other components. Once the major restoration benefits have been realized, however, the marginal value of additional investments is typically small. This is a special case of the well-known “law” of diminishing marginal returns, originally postulated by Anne Robert Jacques Turgot (1844). Curve E also differs from the ones in the Yellow Book (curves A-C) in that complete restoration is not assumed at the end of the CERP. Thus, an IAR approach can potentially yield important benefits even if only partial restoration has been, or ultimately can be, achieved. Whatever the precise shape of the response curves turns out to be, the committee judges it likely that there will be positive ecosystem responses to incremental hydrologic improvements. The rapid return of periphyton, fish, and wading bird populations following the partial restoration of the
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The First Biennial Review – 2006 Kissimmee River (see Chapter 5; SFWMD and FDEP, 2005) illustrates the substantial benefits that can accrue from incremental restoration. Empirical approaches based on an understanding of the form of system responses to incremental investments have been usefully employed for decision making in the proposed framework for remediation of contaminant source zones at hazardous waste sites (e.g., Falta et al., 2005a, 2005b; Jawitz et al., 2005). In addition, positive system responses have been noted for an incremental approach to dam removal on small streams with multiple dams (Heinz Center, 2002). A recent National Research Council (NRC) report used formal risk-analysis and decision-analysis frameworks to understand and address problems of restoring declining Atlantic salmon populations in Maine (NRC, 2004b), an approach likely to be very useful in restoring the Everglades watershed. That report, in advocating a selective and sequential approach to removing dams from some Maine salmon rivers rather than trying to remove many at one time, expressed confidence that an incremental approach would be the appropriate way to sequence actions. An important benefit of an IAR approach is the knowledge gained about the forms of the ecosystem response functions. Although many end-state targets may be achieved only over the long term, some responses may occur quickly, and knowledge gained from these short-term responses is intrinsically valuable. Incremental restoration actions in the form of large-scale experiments that link hydrologic alterations to key performance targets can help identify the time course of the ecosystem recovery responses. With the assistance of empirical and conceptual models, these findings can be used to inform decision making with regard to future restoration actions. Even if curve C (Figure 6-1) proves to be the form of the response, the lack of response to initial investments is still important knowledge that can inform decisions as to whether to continue to pursue restoration, in what form, and on what time path. Future decisions would likely be less effective and would result in poor use of limited resources if the knowledge generated by the early actions were not available. The curves presented in Figure 6-1 are only a small sample of the many possible response functions, some of which may be more complex. However, these example response curves illustrate the following important points: Because the magnitude of responses to management interventions may vary greatly, investments will yield the greatest benefits if they are targeted toward responses that are likely to yield greater restoration sooner. In this way, restoration may occur faster than would otherwise be possible.
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The First Biennial Review – 2006 Complete recovery may not be possible within the CERP time frame or at all; therefore, experimentation could inform decision makers about how much recovery might be achievable. The maximum recovery may be less than the desired predisturbance end state, but how much less depends on the resilience of the ecosystem, including the behavior of the ecosystem processes that govern recovery and, importantly, political decisions on investment priorities. If the response function has a sigmoid shape, continuing to invest when a plateau in recovery has been reached is certain to yield little restoration, despite considerable investment, and to generate considerable frustration. A threshold minimum investment may be required before any ecosystem recovery is achieved. The position of such thresholds has major implications for the nature and extent of management interventions that may be needed to achieve restoration goals. In some ecosystems, hydrologic improvements may, in the early stages, lead to declines in some valued attributes of the ecosystem. However, that is not a reason to abandon restoration efforts if existing information suggests that continued improvements would eventually yield progress toward the desired end state. Experiments designed to determine the shape of the response curve or where recovery thresholds lie could be vital components of restoration actions. For example, the IAR conceptual framework could help scientists and managers estimate the achievable recovery of the natural ecosystem under current constraints and as new conditions develop in the future. The maximum achievable restoration cannot be known in advance, but it can be assessed progressively by initiating actions designed to resolve the most important uncertainties surrounding the responses of the system to management interventions, and the learning benefits from IAR actions are likely to be more than sufficient to justify the early investments. APPLYING THE IAR FRAMEWORK The goal of IAR is to create progress in natural system restoration while improving the understanding of the form of the responses of various ecosystem components to incremental changes in some drivers (e.g., Figure 6-1), thereby informing future restoration planning and decision making. IAR begins with articulation of one or more hypotheses about the response of performance measures (y-axis in Figure 6-1) to changes in a driver (x-axis in Figure 6-1). For example, hypotheses might be developed about the response of the ridge-and-slough landscape to increases in incremental flows
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The First Biennial Review – 2006 (see Box 6-1) or the development and extent of tree islands to changed hydrologic patterns. (For instance, is there a maximum level of water above which tree islands deteriorate? Are tree islands adversely affected by hydrological patterns that deviate strongly from natural ones?) Or IAR could be used to address questions about the areal extent and condition of habitats needed for the survival of threatened and endangered species. (For example, does the long-term survival of the Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow depend on a certain minimum extent of suitable breeding habitat?) IAR requires a clear science plan that serves the information needs for investment decision making; that is, IAR should focus on decision-critical uncertainties—uncertainties that currently prevent identification of appropriate management interventions. Such a plan should identify testable hypotheses (see Box 6-1 for additional examples) and include initial agreement on performance measures deemed likely to show a response during the time frame of the incremental restoration action. Restoration scientists have identified numerous hypotheses that address uncertainties about how the CERP will affect the natural system, and the Restoration Coordination and Verification (RECOVER) program intends to address these hypotheses through the Monitoring and Assessment Plan. However, decision-critical uncertainties need to be resolved to make sound restoration planning decisions, even considering the adaptive management framework in which the CERP operates. Decision-critical uncertainties have delayed progress in restoration planning with Decomp (see Chapter 5), but IAR offers a framework to move forward with restoration while addressing these uncertainties (see Box 6-1). Using IAR based on active adaptive management, hypotheses can be tested through actions of sufficient scale and geographic scope to gain appropriate new knowledge and to secure near-term restoration benefits. As new knowledge is gained through IAR, decision-support hypotheses and associated models can be refined and revised over time. To illustrate the use of the IAR framework, Box 6-1 describes how practitioners could develop and test hypotheses about how the ridge-and-slough system in the WCAs (a performance metric on the y-axis) might respond to increases in flows of water through them (a driver on the x-axis). Additional examples are also provided in the next section on how IAR can be applied to break through common restoration constraints. Examples of Using IAR to Overcome Current Constraints The preceding discussion and Box 6-1 argue that the IAR process can help overcome at least some scientific uncertainties about the response of ecological performance measures to hydrologic alteration. The presence of
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The First Biennial Review – 2006 BOX 6-1 Using IAR to Test Uncertainties Regarding Sheet-Flow Restoration The deterioration of the ridge-and-slough patterns in the WCAs, where flows have been eliminated, demonstrates that restoration and maintenance of those important features of the Everglades ecosystem requires reinstituting sheet flows. However, the functional relationship between the temporal and spatial patterns of flows (e.g., velocity, depth) and both the formation and maintenance of the ridge-and-slough landscape has yet to be determined (NRC, 2003c; SCT, 2003) and cannot be assessed purely by small-scale experiments. Establishing these relationships is a high priority that can be advanced by making and learning from incremental investments at larger scales. To inform restoration decision making, hypotheses could be developed to predict the responses of the ridge-and-slough landscape to incremental hydrologic improvements (e.g., increased flow volumes, increased flow velocities, approaches to decompartmentalization). Example hypotheses related to the sheet-flow restoration in the ridge and slough include the following: What are the ecological consequences from incremental increases in flows through the WCAs and into Everglades National Park? Does the ridge-and-slough landscape respond linearly to increases in flows or are there thresholds at which responses change dramatically? What are the flow characteristics at which the majority of achievable benefits will be realized? Are there thresholds below and above which increased water deliveries are likely to yield little or no ecological benefit? What are the downstream effects, at a range of scales, from the various options to remove or reduce barriers to sheet flow? Data from the Experimental Water Deliveries Program (see Chapter 2) and early implementation of Mod Waters (see Chapter 5) might inform some of these hypotheses. Field experiments could be planned to address those uncertainties that cannot be easily resolved with today’s modeling capabilities or scientific knowledge and which significantly impact the project planning process. As discussed in Chapter 5, experimental plans have recently been developed to test the restoration impacts of various approaches to decompartmentalization in WCA 3, and the committee commends these active adaptive management initiatives. The Decomp Physical Model is a positive step forward that is in many ways consistent with the IAR approach described in this chapter. However, Chapter 5 notes some scale issues that may need to be addressed to fully answer decision-critical hypotheses. An IAR approach to these uncertainties would involve implementing portions of the Decomp project at scales large enough to address the decision-critical uncertainties but small enough so that actions to mitigate flood-control and water supply concerns could also be addressed with incremental investments. These incremental restoration actions would need to be made in a manner that would contribute toward the ultimate restoration goals while also preserving flexibility for later project design changes. Such incremental actions could provide important information that should improve future project designs and promote more cost-effective decisions. IAR offers a way to move forward immediately, in the face of uncertainty, while creating near-term restoration benefits.
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The First Biennial Review – 2006 those uncertainties is one constraint that has impeded restoration progress. However, other constraints to moving forward also are affecting the progress of natural system restoration. In this section, four of these key constraints are described along with ways that the IAR process can address them. Protecting Urban Areas from Flooding: Meeting the Savings Clause The Savings Clause in the Water Resources Development Act of 2000 mandates that existing levels of flood protection not be reduced through CERP implementation. The higher water levels in some locations necessary for the Everglades ecosystem restoration are likely to generate increased subsurface seepage, and therefore higher risks of flooding in nearby urban and agricultural areas, but the form of the response curve is not known. Before decompartmentalization projects, accompanied by yet-to-be-determined higher water levels, can be fully implemented, better understanding and control of seepage will be needed. The relative risks of allowing higher water levels in parts of the Everglades ecosystem and the full range of alternatives for reducing the associated flooding risks can be assessed using the best available models designed at appropriate scales. The models could translate data on water levels in a network of monitoring wells into an understanding of the changes in flood risks, measured by frequency and stage-damage relationships, that might result from different restoration flow volumes and distributions. Such analysis would be essential to inform operations of the water distribution network and to the design of multiple ways to manage seepage along the eastern boundary of the Everglades ecosystem. Options for seepage control (e.g., constructing seepage barriers) as developed in the Yellow Book can then be refined and possible new options identified and evaluated, both to assess the economic and social risk of flooding and to assess the potential for retaining the valuable water within the natural system. Using an IAR approach, seepage management could be implemented incrementally to inform and improve the ultimate project designs while enabling some concurrent increases in flows associated with an incremental approach to decompartmentalization. Balancing Water Quantity and Quality for Restoration The quality criteria for water discharged into the Everglades ecosystem may limit the amount of water from the Kissimmee River basin, Lake Okeechobee, and the Everglades Agricultural Area that can be released to
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The First Biennial Review – 2006 flow southward through the Everglades ecosystem. An adaptive management approach used to develop and refine the design and operation of stormwater treatment areas (STAs), for example, changing the operations from a “single-pass” flow to a “multi-pass” system, has achieved considerable success in reducing phosphorus concentrations in the water discharged into the natural system (Chapter 5). About 41,000 acres of STAs have been constructed to date and, over the 10-year period of their operation, total phosphorus load has been reduced by nearly 600 metric tons. This is relative to an estimated total phosphorus loading (mass inflow rate) of about 2,260 metric tons during the same time period (Table 5-2). Research to improve the performance of STAs needs to be continued, as new investments in water quality improvement are made. During this time, however, sheet-flow restoration could be initiated while efforts to achieve better phosphorus control in the STAs continue. More wetlands to absorb phosphorus could be created in the Everglades Agricultural Area. In the short term, the northern edges of the WCAs could be used to absorb phosphorus. Rather than delaying initiation of sheet flows until total phosphorus concentrations of 10 parts per billion (ppb) have been achieved by the STAs, or by other means yet to be employed, some parts of the WCAs could temporarily receive water with somewhat higher phosphorus concentrations to allow restoration of flows and the associated substantial benefits that might be realized elsewhere in the Everglades ecosystem. Recognition that this action would expand the range of cattails, alter periphyton communities, increase soil phosphorus, and make these areas exceedingly difficult to restore once phosphorus loading is stopped demands a detailed evaluation of the trade-offs between water quality in the affected portions of the ecosystem and increased water flow in other areas of the ecosystem. Detailed evaluations would be necessary to determine the probable relationship between water inflows having, say, concentrations of 12, 15, or 20 ppb of total phosphorus, on the extent of the area of the WCAs likely to be affected. Expected “cattail expansion costs” and other ecological costs could then be compared to the “benefits” derived from incremental flows of water through the Everglades ecosystem. The eventual assessment might, of course, be that the trade-off is unfavorable, but until the trade-off function is established, there is no way to know. Most important, a decision to initiate restoration of the Everglades ecosystem with water that exceeds 10 ppb total phosphorus is not a decision to stop seeking water quality improvements. The IAR approach requires a commitment (organizational, legal, and financial) to continually improve water quality inputs, as well as a commitment to build on knowledge gained from the initial incremental perturbations.
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The First Biennial Review – 2006 Water Reservation Getting the water right requires storage to reduce the need to discharge water to estuaries during times of high water and to maintain sufficient flows during times of low water. Therefore, increasing water storage is a vital component of restoration, and significant increases in aboveground storage are planned in the band 1 (2005-2010) CERP construction projects (see Chapter 3). As argued above, managers do not need to wait until all planned storage is available before initiating natural system restoration. Unfortunately, the allocation of stored water to different purposes remains unclear, in part because modeling to quantify the benefits of these projects has not been completed. No currently stored or future-stored water is yet legally designated for delivery to the natural system through water reservations. If an IAR approach is to work, there needs to be an incremental process for water reservations to support it. However, the logic of an IAR program also can support a water reservation process. As new water storage components come online, that water can be formally reserved to multiple uses, including natural system restoration. As additional projects are added, the new water can be allocated in relation to the water reservation already in place, subject to the constraint that the overall water reservation to each use would not be reduced as new water comes online. Optimization of the operations of the system of projects in place at any time might result in alteration of the allocation to any given project. At the end of the CERP program, the reservations to uses would match those called for in the Yellow Book, unless future policy decisions change that allocation. Currently a lack of formal designation for use of stored water fosters disputes over how water will be allocated at the end of the CERP and stands in the way of incremental restoration progress. Managing Competing Interests Not all groups favor maintaining or expanding the amount of existing wetlands or fully restoring sheet flows. Some landowners are likely to profit from conversions of agricultural or other lands to industrial or urban uses. Some recreational users of the Everglades watershed believe that their interests would be impaired by removal of levees and filling of canals. For example, some bass fishermen want to preserve the canals, which provide some of the best bass-fishing areas (see Chapter 3 for further discussion). An IAR approach could help facilitate dealing with these competing views of preferred future states of the South Florida ecosystem. At least some of the opposition to current Decomp project plans is based on the presump-
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The First Biennial Review – 2006 tion that decompartmentalization will be inevitable and will proceed exactly as described in the Yellow Book. An IAR approach might help address these concerns, because the losses of recreational uses could be carefully weighed against the anticipated ecosystem restoration benefits. If fears about loss of valued uses prove well founded, then mitigation actions might be identified and taken. In the extreme, the restoration process might be halted short of some technically attainable level if the costs to these other interests were deemed significant. Even if that happens, progress on some socially acceptable levels of restoration will have been secured. IAR, however, should not be equated with scaling back CERP goals. The results of IAR experiments may show that compromises in project designs lead to unacceptable restoration effects and may also suggest project design changes that could create greater restoration benefits. Ultimately, IAR provides scientific information to help resolve conflicts among competing interests and make informed project planning decisions. AUTHORIZATION AND BUDGETING TO SUPPORT AN IAR APPROACH The planning and budgeting requirements for IAR are the same ones that accompany any robust and ongoing adaptive management program. Accelerating progress in restoring the South Florida ecosystem through an IAR approach would, therefore, need to be accompanied by an authorization and budgeting process designed to facilitate incremental improvements and learning while doing, recognizing that elements of major projects would need to be formalized separately and funded as increments. The IAR approach would also need to be supported by a commitment to follow up each increment of investments and operation with an analysis of the results and a commitment to design, fund, and carry out the next increment in accordance with those results. Based on the committee’s understanding, such a process can be accommodated by current budgeting procedures, but some adjustments will be needed. The current authorization and budgeting process assumes that the planners will propose and then build the “best possible” project and then fine-tune project operations through adaptive management (NRC, 2004a). The purposes to be served by the project and the water dedicated to those purposes are defined at authorization and are not subject to adjustment except by a new authority. Thus, under current procedures and unless project changes are seriously entertained as a result of the periodic interim CERP updates, adaptive management becomes fine-tuning the performance and operations of each new project in the context of the existing projects in
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The First Biennial Review – 2006 the system, after the complete project has been built. For this reason, the budget available for adaptive management is limited to a fixed proportion of the project construction costs. This conception of the purpose and meaning of adaptive management differs from the logic described here under the IAR framework. There is no federal budget category of activity for the large-scale experiments that are part of the rationale for IAR. Indeed, it is not clear what authority exists to propose and secure funding for actions that will have unpredictable outcomes and that need to be monitored to assess what additional action is warranted. The current authorization and appropriations process requires that proposals demonstrate the need for funds according to justification criteria that presuppose an analytical and scientific certainty about the investment results. In contrast, the IAR process recognizes that an important rationale and justification for such incremental funding is to reduce uncertainty. The promise of knowledge is a new benefit category that is on a par with restoration outcomes in justifying an investment under IAR. A related benefit category in the IAR framework is the flexibility to adjust to new knowledge. These benefits of added flexibility and knowledge would need to be acknowledged in the authorization process to support IAR because costs may be incurred to secure them. An IAR approach also requires planners to keep the ultimate restoration goals firmly in mind so that the investments made at each stage do not foreclose future options. Within IAR, actions could be taken to preserve future flexibility, even if such flexibility comes at a higher cost. As a hypothetical example, if a bridge is proposed to be built as a part of a two-lane highway, and there is some good chance—but not a certainty—that the road will be expanded to four lanes in the future, a small added investment to construct bridge abutments that would accommodate four lanes may be justified to facilitate future expansion. Similarly, using an IAR approach, the construction of the new bridges on Tamiami Trail could be executed so that the road could accommodate the possibility to broaden the zone over which it might eventually be bridged. Any added costs for such construction could be justified by the value of maintaining future flexibility. The IAR process requires a commitment to continually make new investments in restoration until there is compelling evidence that the cost of the next added investment is no longer warranted by the benefits received. For this commitment to have credibility, there needs to be a programmatic authorization that allows for the continuing reformulation and automatic authorization of next added investment increments, subject to an overall
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The First Biennial Review – 2006 budget cap set by the Congress. This authority would still require securing individual appropriations for each new investment increment. This is in effect a variant of the CERP programmatic authorization of groups of projects where a project implementation report is required before the final authorization of a project is secured and funding can be requested. To support project authorization and appropriations under an IAR framework, a project implementation report could be developed for the most ambitious scale of restoration action (the far right of the y-axis in Figure 6-1). However, the report would also identify a set of separable increments that could be funded, implemented, and evaluated, using metrics that include the new benefit and cost categories described above, as well as the performance outcomes that are predicted for each increment. The report would be the basis for the authorization of a number of separable elements that are expected to comprise the scope of the whole set of separable projects, but funds would be requested for each increment. Of course, the plan would be revised as new information is secured and evaluated. Significantly, and different from current approaches to funding adaptive management, funds would be requested, authorized, and appropriated not only for the construction and operations, but also for the monitoring and assessment program that is expected to yield both the knowledge benefits and the translation of the knowledge gained into support for model improvements for future decision making. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS In this chapter, the committee has argued that the restoration of the South Florida ecosystem could be advanced if both an alternative adaptive management framework and a modified funding system were developed and implemented. Experience with restoration projects elsewhere strongly suggests that carefully targeted incremental actions within an active adaptive management framework, supported by appropriate administrative and funding structures, are likely to provide a way to overcome the technical, budgetary, and political difficulties that currently are delaying some restoration efforts in the Everglades. To accelerate restoration of the natural system and break through current constraints on restoration progress, many future investments in restoration in the South Florida ecosystem could profitably employ an incremental adaptive restoration approach. An IAR approach makes investments in restoration that are significant enough to secure environmental benefits while also resolving important scientific uncertainties about how
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Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The First Biennial Review – 2006 the natural system will respond to management interventions. An IAR approach is not simply a reshuffling of priorities in the MISP. Instead, it reflects an incremental approach using steps that are large enough to provide some restoration and address critical scientific uncertainties but generally smaller than the CERP projects or project components themselves, since the purpose of IAR is to take actions that promote learning that can guide the remainder of the project design. The improved understanding that results from an IAR approach will provide the foundation for more rapidly moving forward with restoration. Without appropriate application of an IAR approach, valuable opportunities for learning would be lost, and subsequent actions would be likely to achieve fewer or smaller environmental benefits than they would if they had built upon previous knowledge. IAR is likely to be of particular value in devising management strategies for dealing with complex ecosystem restoration projects for which probable ecosystem responses are poorly known and, hence, difficult to predict (e.g., the role of flows, including extreme events, in establishing and maintaining tree islands and ridge-and-slough vegetation). An IAR approach would also help address current constraints on restoration progress, including Savings Clause requirements, water reservation obligations, water quality considerations, and stakeholder disagreements. An IAR approach would support the innovative adaptive management program now being developed for the CERP. IAR can be used in combination with a rigorous monitoring and assessment program to test hypotheses, thereby yielding valuable information that can expedite future decision making. A significant advantage of IAR over the present CERP adaptive management approach is that there may be early restoration benefits, as major restoration projects proceed incrementally in ways that enhance learning, improve efficiency of future actions, and potentially reduce long-term costs. The existing authorization and budgeting process can be modified to accommodate the IAR process. To facilitate the IAR process and better support an adaptive management approach to the restoration effort, a modified programmatic authorization process would be needed that allows for the continuing reformulation and automatic authorization of subsequent next-added investment increments, subject to an overall budget cap set by Congress. This budgeting authority would still require securing individual appropriations for each new investment increment. This would constitute a variant of the current CERP programmatic authorization of groups of projects, where a project implementation report is required before the final authorization of a project is secured and funding can be requested.
Representative terms from entire chapter: