is important to the success of Everglades restoration. However, NRC committees have previous voiced concern about the ambitious list of indicators for monitoring relative to the likelihood of sustained funding. Recurring evaluations of all monitoring (not just RECOVER-funded monitoring) in support of the CERP should also assess the usefulness of existing datasets and performance measures, consider emerging priorities, and explore opportunities for improved efficiency.
Progress has been made in the development of linked hydrologic and ecological modeling tools, but they remain largely unavailable to project planning, limiting the ability to evaluate differential benefits and impacts of restoration alternatives. No ecological models have been approved for use in benefits analysis for CERP, even though integrated ecological models provide an important tool to assist with project planning, particularly to assess the responses of critical performance measures to project design alternatives and to understand the restoration tradeoffs implicit in alternative plan approaches. If ecological models are to be available to support restoration planning and assessment, then the CERP model development, testing, and review process should be accelerated so that models can move more quickly from development and testing in the research domain to application in support of restoration.
Integrated, or linked, water quality and ecological models are useful tools for exploring the benefits and impacts of project alternatives that affect water quality, water quantity, and habitat. To identify project designs and implementation sequences that maximize restoration benefits and assess potential impacts, project-planning teams need to analyze a range of inflow water quality conditions, including those that exceed targeted levels. The legal requirement that water quality constraints be met should not limit the modeling analyses of restoration alternatives under a range of conditions. Being overly cautious with respect to water quality modeling could prevent a thorough exploration of restoration options and limit the understanding of water quality constraints in hydrologic restoration projects.
Transparent and systematic mechanisms to build trust and incorporate a range of stakeholder preferences relevant to CERP implementation into decision support frameworks would help to clarify and reduce conflict and enhance transparency. The committee acknowledges recent steps toward establishing formal structured decision support tools for components of the CERP with an emphasis on weighing multiple objectives. Decision support frameworks that build trust and provide opportunities for deliberation and negotiation can also assist in identifying and reducing sources of conflict, although they cannot, on their own, eliminate persistent conflict. Hence, additional mechanisms may be needed to resolve conflict or at the very least, a strategy should be set in place for moving forward in the face of conflict while considering conflicting values, preferences, and objectives.