Everglades Research and Ecosystem Services (SERES) project, among others, successfully address all three of these audiences. Together, they present a relatively consistent view of the scientific principles relevant to the Everglades restoration. If the best aspects of these synthesis efforts can be combined and continued in an efficient, ongoing manner, then the effort can help policy makers coalesce around a common vision of scientific principles, key uncertainties, and challenges. In the future, the effectiveness of the synthesis effort could be improved by explicitly addressing tradeoffs, conflicts, and commonalities among water quality, water quantity, and ecosystem responses.
A comprehensive assessment of monitoring efforts is necessary to ensure that fundamental short- and long-term needs of the CERP are met and critical gaps are addressed in the most cost-effective manner. The recent large and sudden cuts to the RECOVER Monitoring and Assessment Program pose a risk to system-wide assessment, which is important to the success of Everglades restoration. However, previous NRC committees have raised questions 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 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 models, 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, 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 essential 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