4
Mod Waters

The Modified Water Deliveries to Everglades National Park (Mod Waters) project was authorized nearly 20 years ago to substantially restore more natural water flows into Everglades National Park. Nearly 50 years of water blockages and diversions have altered and impaired Shark River Slough, in the heart of Everglades National Park, making the northeastern side too dry and the western side too wet. Mod Waters had a simple goal: offset the continuing adverse effects of these flow diversions by restoring more natural water flows into Everglades National Park and, thereby, set the stage for the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) (Figure 4-1).

Nothing else about Mod Waters has been simple. A variety of political, legal, and financial objections have stymied the project, and the attendant delays and resulting changes in scope have dramatically increased its cost. The failure to achieve modified water flows into Everglades National Park has also undermined the learning opportunities associated with the first steps to “get the water right.”

Everglades restoration is at a crossroads: completion of the Mod Waters project would put in place a cornerstone for CERP, while continued failure to implement Mod Waters will delay critical components of the CERP and allow the Everglades ecosystem to continue to degrade. The significance of Mod Waters motivates its review in this progress report.

Accordingly, the project is described, obstacles overcome are identified, and remaining impediments examined. Lessons learned from the Mod Waters project are also included in this chapter. The chapter concludes with a recommendation that the remainder of Mod Waters be implemented promptly so that the first steps toward achieving restoration in Everglades National Park can begin. While the Mod Waters project as currently planned will not provide as many environmental restoration benefits as other project alternatives, it is critical for the overall restoration effort to achieve some environmental benefit from Mod Waters after several decades of effort.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 109
4 Mod Waters The Modified Water Deliveries to Everglades National Park (Mod Waters) project was authorized nearly 20 years ago to substantially restore more natural water flows into Everglades National Park. Nearly 50 years of water blockages and diversions have altered and impaired Shark River Slough, in the heart of Everglades National Park, making the northeastern side too dry and the western side too wet. Mod Waters had a simple goal: offset the continuing adverse effects of these flow diversions by restoring more natural water flows into Everglades National Park and, thereby, set the stage for the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) (Figure 4-1). Nothing else about Mod Waters has been simple. A variety of political, legal, and financial objections have stymied the project, and the attendant delays and resulting changes in scope have dramatically increased its cost. The failure to achieve modified water flows into Everglades National Park has also undermined the learning opportunities associated with the first steps to “get the water right.” Everglades restoration is at a crossroads: completion of the Mod Waters project would put in place a cornerstone for CERP, while continued failure to implement Mod Waters will delay critical components of the CERP and allow the Everglades ecosystem to continue to degrade. The significance of Mod Waters motivates its review in this progress report. Accordingly, the project is described, obstacles overcome are identified, and remaining impediments examined. Lessons learned from the Mod Waters project are also included in this chapter. The chapter concludes with a recom- mendation that the remainder of Mod Waters be implemented promptly so that the first steps toward achieving restoration in Everglades National Park can begin. While the Mod Waters project as currently planned will not provide as many environmental restoration benefits as other project alternatives, it is critical for the overall restoration effort to achieve some environmental benefit from Mod Waters after several decades of effort. 109

OCR for page 109
110 Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades FIGURE 4-1 Overall goal of the Modified Waters project. Water would be diverted from north of the Tamiami Figure 4-1.eps Trail (SR 90), particularly from Water Conservation Area (WCA) 3A. This water would enter Everglades National bitmap Park (ENP) from the northeast and flow through the Shark River Slough system. Several levees (L-67A, L-67C, L-29) and the Tamiami Trail itself currently hinder this flow. Seepage controls in the 8.5-square-mile area (8.5 SMA) would prevent flooding into the developed areas of the eastern Everglades. SOURCE: Adapted from USACE and DOI (2008); inset map © International Mapping Associates. OBJECTIVES OF THE MODIFIED WATER DELIVERIES PROJECT Roads and canals have long affected water flow into the Shark River Slough in Everglades National Park, but the construction of the water conservation areas (WCAs) in 1963 dramatically reduced the flow to what is now the northeastern portion of the park (see Figure 4-2). The Central and South Florida (C&SF) Project primarily channeled flow through West Shark River Slough, reducing mean flow volumes into Northeast Shark River Slough from 65 to 10 percent of the total flow southward across Tamiami Trail, while frequently flooding the park’s western

OCR for page 109
Mod Waters 111 2500 Discharge in 1000s Acre Feet West Shark River Slough 2000 1500 1000 500 0 1940 1945 1950 1955 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 Year Discharge in 1000s Acre Feet 2500 Northeast Shark River Slough 2000 1500 1000 500 0 1940 1945 1950 1955 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 Year FIGURE 4-2 Water discharges into Everglades National Park by way of West Shark River Slough (WSS) and Figure 4-2.eps Northeast Shark River Slough from 1940 to 2006, showing how water was diverted to WSS at the expense of Northeast Shark River Slough, with some return to that area more recently. The graph shows changing proportions of water flowing through the two pathways prior to creation of the WCAs (1940–1963), sub- sequent to creation of the WCAs (1964–1983), and during the Experimental Water Deliveries Program and beyond (1984–2006). SOURCE: Data from R. Johnson, NPS, personal communication, 2008. . habitats. The project also dramatically reduced flow velocities and water depths in WCA-3B. Decades of altered flow volumes and velocities have led to destruc- tion of habitat through loss of soil and deterioration of tree islands, decreased native species diversity, and increased invasion by exotic species. The Mod Waters project was authorized in 1989 as part of the Everglades

OCR for page 109
112 Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades Expansion Act after a series of measures implemented in the 1970s and 1980s to alleviate/reverse the effects of an extended, historic drought on the ecosystems in Everglades National Park proved to be inadequate (see Figure 4-3 and Table 4-1). The Everglades Expansion Act authorized modifications to the C&SF Project to improve water deliveries into Everglades National Park and, to the extent prac- ticable, to take steps to restore natural hydrologic conditions in the park while maintaining flood protection of and water supply to the built environment (PL 101-229, Section 104). If successfully completed, Mod Waters will provide significant restoration in Everglades National Park by increasing the flow of water into Northeast Shark River Slough. Deterioration of ecological conditions in the natural system will continue until the Mod Waters project is operational as described in the autho- rizing legislation. Examples of ecological decline include: • Loss of soil elevation and the characteristic ridge and slough pattern in Everglades National Park due to soil oxidation and more intense and more fre- quent fires (McPherson and Halley, 1996), • Loss of tree islands in WCA-3A as a result of unnaturally high water levels during wet years (drowning) and unnaturally low water levels during dry years (soil oxidation) (Schortemeyer, 1980; Zaffke, 1983), • Movement of wading birds and other large animals away from Everglades National Park because of a lack of food as the heterogeneity of the landscape is lost (Frederick and Spalding, 1994; Hoffman et al., 1994), and • Continued population decline for the snail kite in WCA-3A and lack of recovery for the Cape Sable seaside sparrow in Everglades National Park (SEI, 2007). Halting the decline soon is an essential and urgent step on the path to res- toration. It took biological, geological, hydrologic, and climatological processes thousands of years to build the soils and tree islands (Stone et al., 2002; Willard et al., 2002), whereas an inch of soil can be lost in a single fire or by microbial oxidation of peat in a single year (McPherson and Halley, 1996). Once the soil is lost and tree islands drown, it may not be possible to restore these charac- teristics. It is not clear how long restoration of such losses might take, but the replacement of continued decline with gradual improvement is one step on the path to restoration. The Mod Waters project is also a critical precursor to the CERP. That is, criti- cal elements of the CERP, especially the WCA-3 Decompartmentalization and Sheet Flow Project (or Decomp), a centerpiece of the CERP, are designed to be built upon this cornerstone. Although Mod Waters does not have the visibility

OCR for page 109
Mod Waters 113 Figure 4-3.eps FIGURE 4-3 Mod Waters features. © International Mapping Associates bitmap SOURCE: Modified from B. Gamble, National Park Service, personal communication, 2006, and K. Taplin, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, personal communication, 2008.

OCR for page 109
114 Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades TABLE 4-1 Time Line Leading to Initial Authorization and Preliminary Plans for the Mod Waters Project Date Event Purpose 1960s Extended historic drought affects Everglades National Park (ENP) 1968 ENP South Dade Conveyance Enlargement of the L-31N and C-111 canals System (Flood Control Act) to supplement water deliveries to south Dade and ENP 1970 Minimum Water Delivery Required a minimum of 315,000 acre-feet of Schedule (PL 91-282) water deliveries to ENP each year, with a fixed monthly allotmenta 1983 ENP Seven-Point Plan issued Reduce the impacts of high S-12 regulatory flows on West Shark River Sloughb 1983-1999 Experimental Water Deliveries Test different water delivery schedules to restore Program (PL 98-181) more normal flow, especially in the eastern ENP 1989 ENP Expansion Act Acquire 109,000 acres in Northeast Shark River (PL 101-229) Slough; authorized Modified Water Deliveries and C-111 (South Dade) Projectsc 1992 General Design Memorandum Restore historic flow way between WCA-3A, (GDM) for Mod Waters WCA-3B, and Northeast Shark River Slough and finalized (USACE, 1992) relieve high flows from WCA-3A to Western Shark River Slough. The plan aimed to deliver 55 percent of the total flow volume east of L-67 to reflect historic flow paths 260,000 acre-feet delivered to West Shark River Slough, and 55,000 acre-feet delivered to Taylor Slough a and Eastern Panhandle basins. Seven points included: (1) fill in the L-28 and L-67 extension canals and remove the levee (promote b sheet flow); (2) gap the L-67A and L-67C levees (promote sheet flow and restore flows through WCA- 3B); (3) redistribute West Shark Slough inflows along the full length on the Tamiami canal (L-28 to L-30); (4) establish a bimonthly water quality monitoring program for ENP; (5) defer implementing a proposed drainage district in the East Everglades; (6) field test a rainfall-based water delivery schedule for the WCAs and ENP; and (7) suspend the minimum water delivery schedule (Light and Dineen, 1994). Objectives of C-111 (South Dade) project were to: (1) restore historic hydrologic conditions in the Taylor c Slough, Rocky Glades, and Eastern Panhandle basins of ENP; (2) protect the natural values associated with ENP; (3) eliminate the damaging freshwater flows to Manatee Bay/Barnes Sound and increase flows to northeast Florida Bay from the lower C-111; (4) maintain the level of flood damage reduction associ- ated with the 1994 C-111 (South Dade) recommended plan; (5) ensure that C-111 (South Dade) project waters diverted to ENP meet all applicable water quality criteria.

OCR for page 109
Mod Waters 115 or political support that the CERP enjoys, it is of special interest because of the prominence and importance of the Shark River Slough for the ecosystem and because appropriations for the Decomp project are predicated on completion of the Mod Waters Project. As noted in the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 (WRDA 2007) Conference Report, “Without a change in water delivery to the Park, restoration of the Everglades, and many of the projects authorized as components of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) in 2000, will not succeed.” Since congressional authorization nearly 20 years ago, the Mod Waters project has been plagued by complex and difficult obstacles. Among these obstacles are: • planning and implementation being driven by litigation1 and threats of litigation rather than optimal restoration of the natural system; • Congressional authorization and appropriation processes with limited ability to cope with a project of the scope of Mod Waters2; • limited experience of agencies working together resulting in lack of coordination and weaknesses in strategic planning; • deep differences in stakeholder goals resulting in protracted conflicts over project design (see Box 4-1); • large, unanticipated scope changes; and • dramatic cost escalations over time ($81 million in 1990 to $398 million estimated in 2006 and $523 million in 2008; Sheikh, 2005; USACE and DOI, 2008). Working through these obstacles has resulted in significant delays in project design and implementation. The project was originally scheduled for comple- tion in 1997, but the projected completion is now estimated for 2013. The cost increases and delays have threatened the viability of the project. Litigation has involved issues such as property rights (Garcia v. United States, No. 01-801-CIV- 1 Moore, 2002; see later section “Flood Mitigation in the Eastern Everglades Developed Areas”), endangered species (Natural Resources Defense Council v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, No. 99- 2899, 2001 U.S. District), and procedural requirements (e.g., Miccosukee Tribe of Indians v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, No. 08-21747-CIV-King, 2008), among others. Mod Waters was initially treated as a National Park Service (NPS) project. However, since the 2 total NPS annual construction is approximately $200 million ($218 million in FY 2008), Mod Waters—even as initially approved in 1989—would use the entire construction budget or more. The U.S. Congress has been unwilling to commit this kind of large percentage of the NPS construction account to a single project.

OCR for page 109
116 Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades BOX 4-1 Stakeholder Conflicts in the Combined Structural and Operational Plan The Combined Structural and Operational Plan (CSOP) describes how water for the Mod Waters and C-111 projects will be managed to provide benefits to the natural system and for flood control, recreation, and water supply while meeting applicable water quality standards. It exemplifies the con- flicts among stakeholders that have plagued the Mod Waters project and those that may face the CERP as it moves forward. Stakeholders with the potential to be impacted by the CSOP include Everglades National Park (ENP), environmental groups, urban, agricultural, and recreational interests, as well as tribal, state, regional, and local government resources. Stakeholder conflicts were so significant in the development of the CSOP that the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution stepped in to assess opportunities to facilitate a multistakeholder Environmental Impact Statement process at the request of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), ENP, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD). Specific substantive issues of greatest concern to stakeholders included concerns about flooding east of the L-31N and C-111 canals, water supply, and prestorm drawdown of canals by urban and agricultural interests, hydrologic conditions in natural areas by tribal and environmental interests, the focus on single species management by tribal interests, access for recreational purposes especially by sport fishing interests, and comprehensive restoration of the Everglades by nearly all parties (Alverez et al., 2002). Four major process issues were identified as significant stakeholder concerns related to preparing the CSOP: lack of trust among the stakeholders, the perceived need to implement CSOP quickly, skepti- cism about agency commitment to a collaborative process, and process/meeting fatigue (Alverez et al., 2002). The most difficult of the issues to resolve was that of mistrust among stakeholders. Alverez et al. (2002) describe five scenarios through which mistrust developed among stakeholders: • The perception that an agency has gone back on a commitment or a promise made in the past. • The perception that persons or agencies were working behind the scenes contrary to public pronouncements. • The perception that agency action was not driven by legal requirements and technical data but rather that persons within the agencies manipulated legal requirements and technical data to advance a preferred outcome. • The perception that certain agencies or groups never considered their concerns or act against the interests of the stakeholder. • Perception about delays, disputes among agencies, or errors that have occurred during the planning and implementation of the Mod Waters and C-111 (South Dade) projects. Consequently, there is an assumption that the responsible agencies—ENP, the SFWMD, USACE, and USFWS—cannot be trusted to competently complete these projects. Alvarez et al. (2002) identified the following specific obstacles to collaboration among the stake- holders: “…the long history of polarized relationships, ongoing litigation involving CSOP-related is- sues, the highly technical nature of the CSOP, extreme process fatigue, Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) restrictions regarding nongovernmental participation on advisory bodies, the constraints posed by congressionally-authorized purposes for MWD and C-111 (South Dade) projects, severe time factors, and continuing uncertainty about the agencies’ commitment to collaboration.” Each of these issues, if not addressed through collaborative approaches, also has the potential to negatively impact the CERP.

OCR for page 109
Mod Waters 117 OVERVIEW AND STATUS OF MOD WATERS PROJECT COMPONENTS The Mod Waters project has four interrelated components (Figure 4-3). 1. Tamiami Trail modifications to a 10.7-mile section of U.S. Highway 41 from Structure 333 (S-333) on the west to Structure 334 (S-334) on the east near Krome Avenue; 2. Flood mitigation in the eastern Everglades residential areas (8.5-square- mile area); 3. Conveyance and seepage features in WCA-3B; and 4. Program implementation, including management, operations (e.g., the Combined Structural and Operational Plan [CSOP]), and monitoring. Each of the components contributes to the overall project goals in different, yet critical ways. And each of the Mod Waters components has been controversial enough that each has encountered significant delays in planning and/or imple- mentation. The progress and major issues associated with each component are discussed below. Tamiami Trail Modifications Tamiami Trail (U.S. Highway 41) cuts across the central portion of the Everglades ecosystem along the northern boundary of Everglades National Park (Figures 4-3 and 4-4). The highway links the eastern and western coasts of Florida, providing a critical transportation route for commerce and emergency evacuation. Tamiami Trail and the adjacent L-29 levee impede the slow flow of water southward in a region that was historically sawgrass prairies, marshes, and tree islands. Modifications to the eastern 10.7 miles of Tamiami Trail are neces- sary to increase sheet flow in Northeast Shark River Slough because higher water levels in the L-29 canal and/or larger openings in the trail (e.g., bridges rather than culverts) are required to allow greater water inputs to Northeast Shark River Slough, and higher water levels can adversely affect the stability of the road base given modern traffic loads and speeds. Much of the controversy surrounding the Tamiami Trail component centers on the road design necessary to accomplish hydrologic restoration “to the extent practicable” while protecting the integrity of the roadbed and also minimizing the likelihood of flooding of tree islands within WCA-3B. The original 1992 design increased flows from WCA-3B into Northeast Shark River Slough by pass- ing water through two weirs in the L-29 levee and then through existing culverts beneath the road, and only short sections of the roadway were targeted for eleva-

OCR for page 109
118 Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades FIGURE 4-4 Built in the 1920s, the two-lane Tamiami Trail (and the adjacent levee L-29) interrupts the Figure 4-4.eps natural north-south flow of water through Big Cypress National Preserve and Everglades National Park. bitmap Desired freshwater flow under Tamiami Trail is currently limited by the elevation (stage) of the water in the L-29 canal, which is restricted to prevent flooding of the Tamiami Trail roadway and damage to the subbase under modern traffic loads and speeds. SOURCE: USACE and DOI (2008). tion. However, subsequent analyses revealed that water levels in the L-29 canal to accommodate target flows could adversely affect the road base, given current traffic loads, and could also possibly overtop the road. Furthermore, the Tamiami Trail is a designated hurricane evacuation route, which makes the consequences of potential damage more severe. A hydraulic rating curve—relating stage (i.e., water elevation) in the L-29 canal on the upstream (north) side of Tamiami Trail to flow through the culverts beneath the highway—is shown in Figure 4-5. Given sufficient head (or water elevation above the downstream elevation of Shark River Slough) in the L-29 canal, a variety of desired flows beneath the highway could be achieved. The 1992 General Design Memorandum (USACE, 1992) described maximum target flows of 4,000 cfs based on water flow that could be accommodated through four inflow structures (i.e., S-333, S-355A, S-355B, and S-356) based on their maximum capacities. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Department of the Interior (DOI) (USACE and DOI, 2008) note that 4,000 cfs peak flow is important “because it allows for a discharge sufficient to create the physical changes to the landscape.” However, a flow of 4,000 cfs would require a stage of over 9 feet according to Figure 4-5, and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has currently set a maximum

OCR for page 109
Mod Waters 119 FIGURE 4-5 Hydraulic rating curve for flow through existing culverts beneath the Tamiami Trail, both Figure 4-5.eps before the construction of the L-29 (Tamiami) canal (circa 1963) and with current operational options bitmap (post-1983). SOURCE: K. Kotun, ENP, personal communication (2008). allowable water level of 7.5 feet in the L-29 canal to avoid impacts to the road. Thus, the main impediment to higher flows into Northeast Shark River Slough is the required L-29 canal stage to pass the desired flow through the existing culverts. Wider openings under the road (e.g., new bridges) would allow the required Mod Waters flows to pass under the road at a lower stage in the L-29 canal than with the culverts alone, thereby reducing the required height of and improve- ments to the road and minimizing adverse high-water-level effects on tree islands once Northeast Shark River Slough is reconnected with WCA-3B. USACE and DOI (2008) demonstrated that there is a significant difference in the water stage

OCR for page 109
132 Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades and the STA has been completed. Land acquisitions are nearly complete with the exception of two parcels. Another issue that arose in the 8.5-square-mile area involved the discovery of hazardous wastes in the form of buried lead-acid motor vehicle batteries. The result- ing hazardous waste removal and disposal further increased costs for the project. Conveyance and Seepage Control The conveyance and seepage control features of Mod Waters were planned to move water from WCA-3A to WCA-3B and, subsequently, into Northeast Shark River Slough, to control seepage, and to eliminate the barriers to natural flow patterns between Northeast Shark River Slough and West Shark River Slough (see Figure 4-1). As of December 2007, the following project components have been completed (see Figure 4-3): • Gated spillway structures 355-A and 355-B in the L-29 levee to connect the L-29 canal to Northeast Shark River Slough have been constructed; • A portion of the L-67 extension (4 of 9 miles) has been backfilled; • The S-356 pump station, which returns seepage from Northeast Shark River Slough to the L-29 canal has been constructed; • S-333, a gravity-driven spillway, has been modified to allow greater flow from WCA-3A into the L-29 canal; and • Tigertail Camp has been raised to prevent flooding (see Figure 4-3; USACE and DOI, 2008). Negotiations with the Miccosukee Tribe are ongoing concerning details of raising the Osceola Camp to prevent flooding. Contracts have been signed for construc- tion of S-331 (Command and Control Building). Engineering Documentation Reports will be completed in 2008 for the S-345 flow structures and S-349 spillways that would allow flow through the L-67 levees between WCA-3A and WCA-3B, and weirs in L-29 (Appelbaum, 2008b). The general specifications for the conveyance features in the L-67 levees (i.e., WCA-3B inlet structures [S-345s] and the canal plugs with boat channels [S-349s]; see Figure 4-3) were determined as part of the CSOP negotiations (see next section). However, the maximum inflow for the recommended LRR alter- native (approximately 1,850 cfs into the L-29 canal) can be achieved through existing inflow structures into the L-29 canal (S-333, S-355); therefore, it is unclear whether additional conveyance features will be added (e.g., S-345s, weirs in the L-29 levee) because these features may be difficult to justify as part of Mod Waters.

OCR for page 109
Mod Waters 133 Without the L-67 conveyance features, the Mod Waters project will not serve to reconnect WCA-3A to WCA-3B and Everglades National Park, thereby eliminating important sheet-flow restoration benefits of the project for the WCAs. Failure to reestablish sheet flow perpetuates the unnatural ponding of water in WCA-3A and WCA-3B, while other areas of the system are overdrained. These conditions are in stark contrast to those which formed and maintained the ridge and slough pattern for over millennia (Ross et al., 2006) in what is now WCA-3A, WCA-3B, and Everglades National Park. Program Implementation The final piece in implementation of the Mod Waters project is to develop an operating plan for the pumps and gated structures to move water from WCA- 3A to Northeast Shark River Slough while ensuring the safety of the Tamiami Trail roadbed. The CSOP is an integrated structural and operational plan for two modifications to the C&SF Project: the Mod Waters project and the C-111 (South Dade) project (see Figure 2-3). The purpose of CSOP was to develop an operations plan for the Mod Waters and C-111 (South Dade) projects that would be consistent with their project purposes and provide the most environmental benefits. There is a need for a combined operational plan because the C-111 (South Dade) and Mod Waters projects are hydrologically linked to each other and the larger regional water management system, even though the two projects were authorized by separate congressional legislation. An interagency and multistakeholder CSOP advisory team spent more than 2.5 years in facilitated negotiations to develop a consensus operational plan, based on the two-bridge alternative proposed in the GRR (USACE, 2005). The CSOP advisory team examined a wide range of alternative operational plans, and while none of the alternatives was acceptable to all parties, all agreed that the CSOP should move forward with a modified rain-driven option (Alt 5R), to be implemented as a test unless a preferred operating strategy could be developed before completion of Mod Waters. The proposed Tamiami Trail LRR plan (USACE and DOI, 2008), however, represents a significant change in the operational assumptions underpinning the CSOP, particularly because stage constraints in the L-29 canal will affect operations. Thus, the CSOP is no longer valid and cannot go forward without major changes. The operational strategy to achieve a water distribution of 55 percent east of S-333 and 45 percent to the west, as simulated in the spreadsheet model of the LRR, is only now being reconsidered. Until a plan for Tamiami Trail modi-

OCR for page 109
134 Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades fications receives congressional approval, it is premature to establish consensus operations for unknown project conditions and structures. Nevertheless, the negotiated CSOP operating criteria could potentially be applied to existing and recently completed structures for operation of the redesigned Mod Waters project. Additional delays in implementing Mod Waters may occur if consensus on the details of the new operational plan is difficult to achieve. Cost Escalation for the Mod Waters Project The estimated costs of the Mod Waters project have increased dramatically with the project delays, difficulties in land acquisition, and changes in project scope. By 2008, the estimated cost for the total project is nearly six times the original estimate made in 1990 (Table 4-4). In 2008, estimated project costs totaled $523 million, including $227 million in Tamiami Trail modifications and additional costs for protection of the 8.5-square-mile area, conveyance and seepage controls, design costs, and project implementation support (Table 4-5). In contrast, the general increase in the USACE civil works cost index was only 50 percent during this same 18-year period (USACE, 2007a). Florida has seen greater cost increases over time, particularly for land acquisition (FDOT, 2007a). Since 2004, the rate of construction cost inflation has increased, in Florida and elsewhere. For the Tamiami Trail portion of the Modified Waters project, the major cost escalation occurred when the necessity for increasing the elevation of the road- way to protect its integrity was recognized. The early plans for the project simply included additional culvert volume under the existing roadway, at a cost origi- nally estimated to be $2.9 million (USACE, 1992). The USACE recommended an option with two bridges and other roadway improvements (USACE, 2005) that was originally estimated at $144 million in 2005. By 2007, the same plan was estimated to cost $430 million (USACE and DOI, 2008). After the limited TABLE 4-4 Escalation in Estimated Costs for the Entire Mod Waters Project, with Changing Scope Estimated Total Cost ($ M) Year Tamiami Trail Modification Source 81 1990 Flow through culverts Sheikh, 2005 398 2006 2-bridge option Sheikh, 2005 523 2008 1-mile eastern bridge USACE and DOI, 2008, Table 6-3

OCR for page 109
Mod Waters 135 TABLE 4-5 Estimated Costs and Funding Shares in 2007 Dollars for the 2008 Recommended Mod Waters Project, with the 1-Mile Eastern Bridge Expenditure FY08 FY09 and Total Project Through FY07 Enacted After Costs Item ($ M) ($ M) ($ M) ($ M) 8.5-Square-Mile Area 170.4 170.4 Conveyance & Seepage 30.0 21.2 51.2 Tamiami Trail Modifications 45.5 18.4 161.6 225.5 Tamiami Trail Design 11.0 5.7 16.7 Project Implementation Support 41.5 0.0 17.8 59.4 Mod Waters Total 298.4 24.1 200.6 523.1 Funding Shares DOI 230.7 14.3 245.0 USACE 67.7 9.8 77.5 FDOT 4.5 4.5 Funding to be Determined 196.1 196.1 SOURCE: Developed from USACE and DOI (2008), Table 6-3. reevaluation of Tamiami Trail alternatives, the Tamiami Trail modifications cost estimate for the recommended plan (alternative 3.2.2a) for a 1-mile bridge and related improvements is $227 million (USACE and DOI, 2008, p. C-10). This is 29 percent lower than the figure cited in Table 4-3 due to incorporation of potential value-engineering cost-saving options that could result from changes in asphalt placement, construction right-of-way needs, bridge inspection methods, and fill material sources, as well as from the elimination of spreader swales as part of the design. The 2008 USACE estimate for the recommended Tamiami Trail modifications after cost savings from value engineering is shown in Table 4-6. This estimate includes a 28 percent escalation allowance for price increases in the 3-year construction period, suggesting a historically high expectation of continuing cost increases. In 2007, FDOT recommended a present-day cost inflation factor through 2011 of 14 percent, anticipating a reduction in recent high cost escala- tions (FDOT, 2007b). The USACE estimate is also intended to reflect a 90 percent confidence that costs would be at or below the $227 million figure. However, the 90 percent confidence level is only 3 percent above the 50 percent confi- dence level (USACE and DOI, 2008), reflecting a remarkable degree of certainty about the future increase in construction costs. Even with this cost escalation and 90 percent confidence level budgeting, the cost savings identified through

OCR for page 109
136 Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades TABLE 4-6 Estimated Costs of the Recommended Tamiami Trail Modification (1-Mile Eastern Bridge) Item Cost Estimate After Value Engineering Construction $ 154.8 M PED (planning, engineering, and design) $ 1.5 M EDC (2%) (engineering during construction) $ 3.1 M S/A (8.5%) (supervision and administration) $ 13.2 M Real Estate $ 5.9 M Escalation (28.1% based on Oct. 2008 Award) $ 48.1 M Total $ 226.6 M SOURCE: USACE and DOI (2008), Table 4, Appendix C, 90 percent confidence estimates. value engineering reduced the estimated Tamiami Trail modifications cost from the preliminary $319 million estimate in Table 4-3 to the final estimate of $227 million. The Mod Waters project is not yet complete. Through fiscal year (FY) 2007, $298 million has been spent on all aspects of the project, and $225 million is estimated for future costs, primarily to complete the proposed Tamiami Trail modifications (Table 4-5). The funding totals include an expected $4.5 million contribution from the state of Florida reflecting pavement maintenance savings on the Tamiami Trail. Compared to the entire CERP project, the expenditure is modest, but the project takes important first steps toward restoration within Everglades National Park and lays the groundwork for future modifications in the CERP. The project delivers an important increment of restoration benefits, albeit substantially less than the 2005 plan (Table 4-3). Additional Tamiami Trail modifications will be needed as the CERP pro- gresses and the Decomp project moves forward to allow greater water flow vol- umes into Everglades National Park. Therefore, it is essential to understand that the Modified Waters project proposed in the 2008 LRR represents only a first step in achieving the restoration goals of CERP. Nevertheless, progress in increasing the water flows into Everglades National Park is a critical first step to make. To maximize the usefulness of the Mod Waters project, critical uncertainties should be identified and a monitoring plan developed so that the Mod Waters project can inform the planning of future sheet-flow restoration projects. LESSONS LEARNED FROM MOD WATERS The challenges to completing Mod Waters have proven formidable, and it is likely that the same challenges will affect other projects connected to the CERP.

OCR for page 109
Mod Waters 137 One of the tenets of the adaptive management framework of the CERP is learn- ing while doing, and the struggles to overcome obstacles faced during planning and implementation of the Mod Waters project offer some important lessons for the CERP. In this section, the following lessons will be discussed, although there are undoubtedly many more: • agreeing on the scope and operating targets early in the decision-making process; • providing strong, unifying leadership; • recognizing the need to adapt plans over time; and • establishing clear project management structure. Benefits from Early Agreement on Project Scope and Operating Targets Agreement on project scope and operating targets is a widely recognized characteristic of successful projects (Diekmann and Thrush, 1986). With consen- sus agreements, design and construction can proceed in a straightforward, timely, and cost-effective fashion. The Mod Waters project illustrates the difficulties aris- ing from an ill-defined scope and operating targets. After authorization as part of the 1989 Everglades National Part Expansion and Restoration Act, planning activities resulted in the 1992 General Design Memorandum that assumed exist- ing culverts were sufficient to pass required water flows without damage to the road, and the original authorization limited land acquisition to only the original perimeter levee in the 8.5-square-mile area. The general management philosophy of the 1992 plan was to allow more unconstrained water flows into Everglades National Park. As time went on, the project scope and operating targets changed, with adoption of more active control of water flows, larger-scale land purchases, and significant change in the Tamiami Trail configuration. With scope changing so drastically, project costs increased dramatically. Indeed, issues such as the appropriate opening sizes for culverts and underpasses along the Tamiami Trail (US-41) are still controversial, and stakeholders and agencies continue to debate what amount of hydrologic restoration is, in fact, “practicable.” The alternative to consensus building is prolonged agency squabbling and litigation from stakeholders, a process that is slow and divisive. With litigation there are always winners and losers, and litigation promulgates an increasingly antagonistic environment through which the parties involved in restoration must negotiate. Conflict resolution efforts have offered the greatest hope for finding solutions that are at least partly amenable to all parties (NRC, 2003c). In the development of the CSOP, agencies and stakeholders used a facilitated conflict resolution process to reach agreement on the objectives of the operational plan

OCR for page 109
138 Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades and, subsequently, the details of the operations. Restoration planners hoped this approach would help to build trust among stakeholders and allow them to avoid litigation. Although it was a lengthy and challenging process, the facilitated conflict resolution process enabled the agencies and stakeholders to work collab- oratively toward a common goal and to find a way to move beyond the planning stalemate. However, this team-based process will succeed only if all participants (and their agency leaders) agree upon the project goals and are committed to working together to accomplish these goals with a spirit of compromise, not confrontation. The entire process can be undermined when parochial interests prevail and without support from the policy level. One of the major strengths of the CERP in the past has been the ability of state agencies, federal agencies, and stakeholders to combine their interests and present a united position in seeking authorization and funding for projects. Overall, the strategy was to ensure that everyone received some benefits from the large-scale project. The reality, however, is that every interest group may not benefit equally, and trade-offs are likely to be necessary. In many cases, the real consensus building occurs after project authorization, when specifics of design, construction, operation, and management sharpen differences among stakeholders. CERP leaders will need to find ways to move forward with CERP components even when there is a lack of consensus. Leadership Strong leadership remains essential to achieving Everglades restoration goals by overcoming the many potential conflicting interests involved. Elected state and federal officials, together with agency directors, can build and maintain support among stakeholders and maintain the system-wide vision for the resto- ration. Continuing efforts are needed to assure that interests coalesce around high-priority project components with the greatest restoration benefits for the South Florida ecosystem, to offset the seemingly natural inclination of many stakeholders or communities to take opposing positions. This leadership is also important in holding coalitions together over the long time periods required for completion of projects even after they are authorized and funded. General agreement among stakeholders on priorities and trade-offs will make completion of CERP components possible; if such agreement is absent, it is unlikely that restoration will succeed. Strong political leadership resulted in the initial authorization of the CERP and remains critical to keep the CERP on track toward its restoration goals.

OCR for page 109
Mod Waters 139 Recognize Need to Adapt Plans over Time One of the most challenging aspects of large ecosystem restoration is that decisions need to be made despite some uncertainty in the supporting science and engineering knowledge base, and as a result, plans may need to be adapted over time as more knowledge is gained. For those well versed in adaptive man- agement (see Chapter 6), this idea may seem obvious. Nonetheless, it carries with it the difficult challenge of how to maintain consensus and stakeholder support when the basis of that agreement and support changes. Planners recognize that they cannot anticipate all possible outcomes, but it remains to be seen how willing restoration decision makers will be to significantly alter project designs and/or operations once the projects come on line. Sometimes project design changes come at a significant cost, as with the Tamiami Trail, but the changes are essential to attaining the restoration goals. Once again, strong restoration leadership with clear communication with CERP scientists is needed to adapt to changing knowledge and make difficult but well-informed decisions. Establish Clear Project Management Structure The Mod Waters project has been managed by the DOI and the USACE with participation by the state and local agencies. A report by the Office of the Inspec- tor General (DOI, 2006) raises concerns about the consultation and management role played by the DOI. The report recognized that many factors contributed to project delays and cost escalation beyond the participating agencies’ control, but the report concluded that project management was ineffective due to a lack of communication among participating agencies. This stems, in part, from DOI’s inexperience with implementing large water projects and lack of an institutional history of working with other federal, state, and local agencies to accomplish a major restoration project. Undoubtedly federal policy makers also played a role in project delays. For example, the Mod Waters project was originally authorized as part of the construction budget of the NPS. The project represented a very large element of this budget, and it was a radical departure from business as normal. As a result, congressional appropriators exhibited great concern, and Congress was slow to provide funding for Mod Waters. In 2006, to ease concern about NPS oversight of Mod Waters and to facilitate completion of the project, the federal govern- ment shifted funding of some of the Mod Waters project to the USACE budget (Sheikh and Carter, 2006), although this shift has created some resistance to new funding for the project in Congress. However, as long as a significant frac- tion of the Mod Waters budget resides in the NPS’s construction budget, there

OCR for page 109
140 Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades could be difficulties in implementing the project due to historic limitations on the magnitude of this budget. With multiple managers and many affected parties, decision making for the Mod Waters project has been slow, in turn creating concern in Congress about continuing appropriations for a project already delayed 8 years and more than five times over the original budget. Similar delays are apparent for many CERP projects (see Chapter 3). Clear project management structure can facilitate deci- sion making, thereby reducing delays and cost escalation. The state of Florida’s experience with its Acceler8 program shows that clear lines of authority are also helpful in making timely progress. INCREMENTAL ADAPTIVE RESTORATION AND MOD WATERS The LRR supports a plan that would bridge a small (1-mile) portion of Tamiami Trail and elevate the road to 8.5 feet to accommodate additional flow into Northeast Shark River Slough, although this is less flow than was originally envisioned. These alterations should also be compatible with further modifica- tions needed for Decomp. Some might describe this approach as incremental adaptive restoration (IAR) (NRC, 2007; see also Chapter 3), but the committee does not, primarily because there is no commitment to take the new knowledge and apply it to future project increments to move closer to the original project goals. Once the Tamiami Trail component of Mod Waters is completed, all future improvements to the project would need to be made through a separate authorization (e.g., the CERP), which would be funded and managed by entirely different mechanisms. Instead, the primary motivation for moving forward with a small increment is financial. The political constraints that bounded the decision for the Tamiami Trail essentially eliminated the option for IAR, as envisioned by the committee. After 18 years with only moderate progress and massive increases in the scope and cost of restoration, legislators lost patience in the Mod Waters project and confidence that public funds were being well spent. The goal no longer was hydrologic restoration but to finish the project that was started, whether or not the full degree of hydrologic restoration envisioned in the 1989 authorization was achieved. The current plans will result in some restoration benefits and may bring the Mod Waters project to a close so that CERP projects can move forward. However, the unfulfilled goals of the Mod Waters project and the unresolved challenges involving Tamiami Trail modifications appear likely to be shifted into the CERP and Decomp plans, a project already plagued by stakeholder conflicts and planning delays.

OCR for page 109
Mod Waters 141 Nevertheless, there are important opportunities for learning in the proposed Tamiami Trail modifications. The committee encourages the USACE and DOI to develop appropriate hypotheses and supporting monitoring programs so that critical uncertainties affecting future restoration planning can be addressed and future sheet-flow enhancement projects improved. The LRR states that a moni- toring program will support learning from this project, but the report does not identify any critical uncertainties that the project could address or metrics by which those uncertainties could be resolved. With an appropriately designed monitoring program, the committee hopes CERP planners can take what is learned from the Mod Waters project and use that information to help build consensus for Decomp. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS The history of the Mod Waters project is one of the most discouraging stories in Everglades restoration. The project, which would provide crucial first steps toward ecological restoration within Everglades National Park, has been plagued by changes in direction and scope, parochial interests, debilitating liti- gation, enormous cost escalation due both to inflation and plan modifications, unanticipated engineering constraints (e.g., Tamiami Trail integrity), and lack of coordinated leadership from the responsible agencies. How the project will be funded (i.e., involving the NPS, USACE, FDOT) is a further complicating factor. While some events may have been unavoidable, the outcome has been loss of support from Congress, which must fund the project, and loss of enthusiasm—or even understanding—from the public. Worst of all, the history of delay further damages Everglades National Park. Completion of Mod Waters is crucial to the success of Everglades restoration and the CERP projects that follow. If this rela- tively modest restoration project cannot proceed and provide some restoration benefits, the outlook for the CERP is dismal. Without completion of Mod Waters, central components of the CERP cannot proceed and ecological conditions in the Everglades ecosystem will continue to deteriorate. Nineteen years have passed since the Mod Waters project was authorized, and the restoration of water flows has not occurred, even though it is a critical foundation project for the CERP. Serious doubt is cast on the prospects for successful Everglades restoration if this important project still languishes. Political leadership and the timely provision of funding are essential if progress on Mod Waters and the associated delivery of restoration benefits to Everglades National Park are going to occur. Strong leadership focused on building and maintaining support among stake- holders and overcoming conflicts is essential for Everglades restoration projects

OCR for page 109
142 Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades to achieve their restoration goals. If there is insufficient political leadership to align research, planning, funding, and management with restoration goals agreed upon by the stakeholders, the CERP will be likely to result in an abbreviated series of disconnected projects that ultimately fail to meet the restoration goals. Other lessons for the CERP that can be learned from the struggles faced during the plan- ning and implementation of the Mod Waters project include the benefits of early agreement on project scope and objectives, the need for a clear project manage- ment structure, and the need to anticipate adapting project plans over time. The reduced scope of Mod Waters attainable with the 2008 recommended plan for modifying Tamiami Trail (alternative 3.2.2.a) provides some environ- mental benefits but shifts increased responsibility (and cost) to the CERP to achieve authorized Mod Waters goals. The 2008 recommended plan represents a substantially smaller step toward restoration than was originally envisioned for Mod Waters. The recommended alternative is also less cost-effective than other alternatives when benefits are considered as habitat units per dollar spent (see Table 4-3). Although it is critical to move ahead and implement it quickly, the recommended alternative should be viewed only as a first step toward restora- tion. Moreover, it should be recognized that moving forward with the 2008 recommended plan increases the urgency to proceed more quickly to imple- ment the additional necessary Tamiami Trail modifications through the CERP, or some other mechanism, so that the restoration benefits for Everglades National Park outlined in the WRDA 2007 conference report can be achieved as soon as possible.