important projects have been delayed due to several factors including budgetary restrictions and a project planning process that can be stalled by unresolved scientific uncertainties. The report outlines an alternative approach that can help the initiative move forward even as it resolves remaining scientific uncertainties. The report calls for a boost in the rate of federal spending if the restoration of Everglades National Park and other projects are to be completed on schedule.
Human settlements and flood control structures have significantly reduced the Everglades, which once encompassed more than 3 million acres of slow-moving water enriched by a diverse biota. The CERP was formulated in 1999 with the goal of restoring the original hydrologic conditions of the remaining Everglades. A major feature of this plan is providing enough storage capacity to meet human and ecological needs. This report reviews and evaluates not only storage options included in the plan, but also other options not considered in the plan. Along with providing hydrologic and ecological analyses of the size, location, and functioning of water storage components, the report also discusses and makes recommendations on related critical factors, such as timing of land acquisition, intermediate states of restoration, and tradeoffs among competing goals and ecosystem objectives.
The CERP imposes some constraints on sequencing of its components. The report concludes that two criteria are most important in deciding how to sequence components of such a restoration project: (1) protecting against additional habitat loss by acquiring or protecting critical lands in and around the Everglades and (2) providing ecological benefits as early as possible.
There is a considerable range in the degree to which various proposed storage components involve complex design and construction measures, rely on active controls and frequent equipment maintenance, and require fossil fuels or other energy sources for operation. The report recommends that, to the extent possible, the CERP should develop storage components that have fewer of those requirements, and are thus less vulnerable to failure and more likely to be sustainable in the long term.
Further, as new information becomes available and as the effectiveness and feasibility of various restoration components become clearer, some of the earlier adaptation and compromises might need to be revisited. The report recommends that methods be developed to allow tradeoffs to be assessed over broad spatial and long temporal scales, especially for the entire ecosystem, and gives an example of what an overall performance indicator for the Everglades system might look like.