to support planned projects in the remnant Everglades ecosystem, aside from the stalled EAA A-1 Reservoir, and the benefits of the EAA A-1 Reservoir to the remnant Everglades remain unclear.
WCA-3 is a growing focus of public controversy and management concern because of its location and the way the entire system is operated to manage water distribution and quality. WCA-3A supports extensive and relatively intact landscapes including ridge and slough patterns and tree islands and provides critical habitat for endangered species, such as the snail kite and wood stork. It is the homeland of the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians and supports the tribe members’ traditional and contemporary lifestyles. Over the past decade, however, there have been drastic declines in snail kite numbers and nesting success in WCA-3A, as well as continued slow declines in tree island size and number. The imminent loss of the snail kite from WCA-3A may precipitate a crisis in water management. To some degree, this situation has been exacerbated by the current operation of the compartmentalized Everglades that alters flows across the Tamiami Trail to restore Cape Sable seaside sparrows and ecosystem functioning in Everglades National Park.
In light of the rapidly deteriorating conditions in WCA-3A, improvements in operations could lead to important near-term restoration progress. The committee commends the cooperative, multi-objective approach to improve near-term operations that is reflected in the ERTP and encourages continuation of this approach, supported by rigorous scientific analysis and decision tools, beyond the November 2010 end point. This process has the potential to align water management in the water conservation areas with a schedule that responds more flexibly to real-time conditions.
Improved species models and multi-objective decision analysis tools are urgently needed to provide more rigorous scientific support for water management decisions. Multi-objective decision tools can be used to help evaluate hydrologic effects and water-level management options on threatened species, ecosystem features such as tree islands, and critical ecosystem processes.