the goals of the CERP more difficult. Lack of timely restoration progress by the CERP, to date, has been largely due to the complex federal planning process and the need to resolve conflicts among agencies and stakeholders. However, future restoration progress is likely to be limited by the availability of funding and the current authorization and funding mechanisms. In periods of restricted funding and limited capability to move forward on many fronts, the ability to set priorities and implement them is critical. Much good science has been developed to support the restoration efforts, and the foundations of adaptive management have been established to support the CERP. To avert further declines, CERP planners should address major project planning and authorization hurdles and move forward expeditiously with projects that have the most potential for contributing to natural system restoration progress in the South Florida ecosystem.
Several South Florida restoration programs, including the CERP—the largest of the initiatives—are now under way. The CERP, led by the USACE and the SFWMD, consists primarily of projects to increase storage capacity (e.g., conventional surface-water reservoirs, aquifer storage and recovery, in-ground reservoirs), improve water quality (e.g., stormwater treatment areas [STAs]), reduce loss of water from the system (e.g., seepage management, water reuse, conservation), and reestablish pre-drainage hydrologic patterns wherever possible (e.g., removing barriers to sheet flow, rainfall-driven water management). The largest portion of the budget is devoted to water storage and conservation and to acquiring the lands needed for those projects.
The CERP builds upon other activities of the state and the federal government aimed at restoration (hereafter, non-CERP activities), many of which are essential to the success of the CERP in achieving its restoration goals. These include Modified Water Deliveries to Everglades National Park (Mod Waters) and the Kissimmee River Restoration—projects that will alter hydrologic patterns to more closely resemble pre-drainage conditions. Several non-CERP projects address water quality issues, including the Everglades Construction Project (construction of over 44,000 acres of STAs) and restoration of Lake Okeechobee. In addition, research on and management of invasive species is important to the overall restoration program. Finally, the state of Florida’s Acceler8 initiative is a mix of expedited projects that were identified in the CERP and some non-CERP projects. In Chapter 2 of the report, the committee analyzes the broader context for the South Florida ecosystem restoration efforts and presents the following conclusions and recommendations: