restoration efforts has been of high quality and comprehensive. Important issues concerning scientific understanding, scientific coordination, and the incorporation of science into program planning and management remain, but the committee judges that no significant scientific uncertainty should stand in the way of restoration progress. Second, there have been some significant restoration achievements by non-CERP activities, most notably in reducing phosphorus inputs and loads and in restoring the Kissimmee River. Although those projects are not complete and the scientific and engineering challenges have not been entirely conquered, the achievements should be cause for cautious optimism that other elements of the program can achieve positive results as well.
Natural system restoration will be best served by moving the ecosystem as quickly as possible toward biological and physical conditions that previously molded and maintained the Everglades. However, 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, although the expected ecosystem benefits from early water storage projects remain uncertain. Other important projects, including the work to reestablish sheet flow in the WCAs and Everglades National Park, 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, 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, merit additional attention from senior managers and policy makers. Escalating land and other prices affect the restoration’s budget, and federal funding has also fallen behind its original commitments. If federal funding for the CERP does not increase, restoration efforts focused on Everglades National Park and other federal interests may not be completed in a timely way. To help address the project planning concerns, the committee proposes an incremental adaptive-management-based approach, termed IAR, which can help resolve scientific uncertainties while enabling progress toward restoration goals. Finally, perhaps the largest challenge is maintaining the continued support of the coalition of stakeholders through the restoration process.