RESTORING THE EVERGLADES
The Fourth Biennial Review - 2012
Committee on Independent Scientific Review of Everglades Restoration Progress
Water Science and Technology Board
Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology
Division on Earth and Life Studies
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, D.C. 20001
NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the panel responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.
Support for this study was provided by the Department of the Army under Cooperative Agreement No. W912EP-04-2-0001. Support for this project was also provided by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the South Florida Water Management District. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project.
International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-25922-4
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-25922-3
Cover credit: “Florida bird life.” Cover image courtesy of the University of Florida Digital Collections George A. Smathers Libraries, http://ufdc.ufl.edu.
Additional copies of this report are available for sale from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Keck 360, Washington, DC 20001; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313; http://www.nap.edu/.
Copyright 2012 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences.
The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering.
The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine.
The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.
COMMITTEE ON INDEPENDENT SCIENTIFIC REVIEW OF EVERGLADES RESTORATION PROGRESS1
WILLIAM G. BOGGESS, Chair, Oregon State University, Corvallis
MARY JANE ANGELO, University of Florida, Gainesville
DAVID B. ASHLEY, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
CHARLES T. DRISCOLL, Syracuse University, New York
WILLIAM L. GRAF, University of South Carolina, Columbia
WENDY D. GRAHAM, University of Florida, Gainesville
SAMUEL N. LUOMA, University of California, Davis
DAVID R. MAIDMENT, University of Texas, Austin
DAVID H. MOREAU, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
SCOTT W. NIXON, University of Rhode Island, Kingston (through May 2012)
K. RAMESH REDDY, University of Florida, Gainesville
HELEN REGAN, University of California, Riverside
ELISKA REJMANKOVA, University of California, Davis
JEFFREY R. WALTERS, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg
STEPHANIE E. JOHNSON, Study Director, Water Science and Technology Board
DAVID J. POLICANSKY, Scholar, Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology
MICHAEL J. STOEVER, Research Associate, Water Science and Technology Board
SARAH E. BRENNAN, Senior Program Assistant, Water Science and Technology Board
1The activities of this committee were overseen and supported by the National Research Council’s Water Science and Technology Board and Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology (see Appendix F for listing). Biographical information on committee members and staff is contained in Appendix G.
Many individuals assisted the committee and the National Research Council staff in their task to create this report. We would like to express our appreciation to the following people who have provided presentations to the committee and served as guides during the field trips:
Carlos Adorisio, South Florida Water Management District
John Anderson, U.S. House Water Resources and the Environment Subcommittee
Stu Appelbaum, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Nick Aumen, National Park Service
Ernie Barnett, South Florida Water Management District
Ronnie Best, U.S. Geological Survey
Samira Daroub, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Stephen Davis, Everglades Foundation
Coby Dolan, Office of Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Shultz
Gretchen Ehlinger, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Shannon Estenoz, U.S. Department of the Interior
Evelyn Gaiser, Florida International University
Lawrence Gerry, South Florida Water Management District
Lawrence Glenn, South Florida Water Management District
Sara Gonzalez-Rothi, Office of Sen. Bill Nelson
Susan Gray, South Florida Water Management District
Matt Harwell, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (formerly)
Todd Hopkins, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Don Jodrey, U.S. Department of the Interior
Robert Johnson, National Park Service
Bob Kadlec, Independent Consultant
Kelly Keefe, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Chris Kelble, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Dan Kimball, National Park Service
Greg Knecht, Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Steve Kopecky, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Kevin Kotun, National Park Service
Tom MacVicar, MacVicar, Federico, and Lamb
Philip Mancusi-Ungaro, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Cherise Maples, Seminole Tribe of Florida
Susan Markley, Miami-Dade County
Jeremy McBryan, South Florida Water Management District
Chris McVoy, South Florida Water Management District (formerly)
Melissa Meeker, South Florida Water Management District
Carol Mitchell, National Park Service
Gail Mitchell, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Temperince Morgan, South Florida Water Management District
Matt Morrison, South Florida Water Management District
Frank Nearhoof, Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Cal Neidrauer, South Florida Water Management District
Peter Ortner, University of Miami
Jon Pawlow, U.S. House Water Resources and the Environment Subcommittee
Gina Ralph, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Garth Redfield, South Florida Water Management District
Terrence “Rock” Salt, U.S. Department of the Interior (formerly)
Dan Scheidt, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Fred Sklar, South Florida Water Management District
Donato Surratt, National Park Service
Tom Teets, South Florida Water Management District
Karen Tippett, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
David Tipple, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Joel Trexler, Florida International University
Bill Walker, Independent Consultant
David Wegner, U.S. House Water Resources and the Environment Subcommittee
Carol Wehle, South Florida Water Management District (formerly)
Paul Wetzel, Smith College
Walter Wilcox, South Florida Water Management District
This report is dedicated to Dr. Scott W. Nixon (1943-2012), who served on the committee that authored this report until May 21, 2012, when he passed away suddenly. He was a valuable member of the committee. In particular, the committee and staff members will miss his good humor, patience, inquisitiveness, skepticism, perspective, and knowledge.
Dr. Nixon was professor of oceanography and UNESCO/Cousteau Chair in Coastal Ecology and Global Assessment at the University of Rhode Island, where he had been since he arrived as a post-doctoral research associate in 1969. He also had served as the director of Rhode Island Sea Grant. In addition to this committee, Dr. Nixon served on six other National Research Council (NRC) committees and on the NRC’s Ocean Studies Board.
Held in high esteem by his colleagues, Dr. Nixon contributed not only his expertise but also brought a spirit of camaraderie to his service on NRC committees. However frustrated he might become with impenetrable documents and seemingly intractable problems, he never lost his humor and willingness to learn. His spirit and memory will continue as a model for NRC volunteers.
The South Florida ecosystem encompasses some of the world’s largest, most diverse and distinctive wetland ecosystems, stretching more than 200 miles from Orlando to Florida Bay. The historical ecosystem consisted of a mosaic of sloughs and small lakes in the north that were linked by the meandering Kissimmee River floodplain to Lake Okeechobee, the Everglades headwaters. Lake Okeechobee fed the River of Grass as water flowed south through the pond apple forest, sawgrass plains, ridge-and-slough wetlands, tree islands, and marl prairies into the bays and estuaries. However, nearly 150 years of drainage, channelization, and flood control in support of agriculture, industry, and urban development have reduced the historical Everglades by more than half. Today, water historically destined for Everglades National Park must negotiate a maze of canals, levees, stormwater treatment areas, pump stations, and hydraulic control structures—approximately 40 percent (see NRC, 2010) never gets there because it is diverted via canals to the ocean or for other uses. Contaminants from agriculture, industry, and urban development have polluted the historically pristine waters with phosphorus, nitrogen, and mercury. Additionally, invasion by exotic species further compromises the system’s ecological integrity.
In 1999, the state of Florida and the federal government agreed to a multi-decadal, multi-billion dollar Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) to protect and restore the remaining Everglades while meeting the growing demands for water supply and flood control. The CERP is jointly managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD). In authorizing the CERP, the U.S. Congress mandated periodic independent reviews of progress toward restoration of the Everglades natural system. The National Research Council’s (NRC’s) Committee on Independent Scientific Review of Everglades Restoration Progress, or CISRERP, was formed for this purpose in 2004.
This report, which is the fourth in a series of biennial evaluations that are expected to continue for the duration of the CERP, reflects the concerted
efforts of 14 committee members and 4 NRC staff representing a wide range of scientific and engineering expertise. The committee met six times over an 18-month period, including four times in Florida and once in Washington, D.C. We reviewed a large volume of written material and heard oral presentations from state and federal agency personnel, academic researchers, interest groups, and members of the public. The committee’s task is a daunting one, given the size and complexity of the Everglades ecosystem and corresponding scope of the CERP. I greatly appreciate the time, attention, and thought each committee member invested in understanding this complex system. I also appreciate their careful, rigorous analyses, expert judgment, constructive comments and reviews, and good humor with which they conducted their business. The report presents our consensus view of restoration accomplishments and emerging challenges primarily during the past 2 years but also over the 12 years since the project was authorized.
The committee is indebted to many individuals for their contributions of information and resources. Specifically, we appreciate the efforts of the committee’s technical liaisons—David Tipple (USACE), Glenn Landers (USACE), Larry Gerry (SFWMD), and Robert Johnson (National Park Service)—who responded to numerous information requests and helped the committee utilize the vast resources of agency expertise when needed. Many others educated the committee on the complexities of Everglades restoration through their presentations, field trips, and public comments (see Acknowledgements).
The committee had the good fortune to be assisted by a dedicated and talented NRC staff including: Stephanie Johnson, David Policansky, Michael Stoever, and Sarah Brennan. Senior project officer, Stephanie Johnson, orchestrated the study for the NRC; her understanding of the science, engineering, and administrative aspects of the CERP, deft management skills, and ability to synthesize complex interrelationships are unparalleled. Scholar David Policansky’s sage observations and illuminating questions were instrumental to the committee’s deliberations and understanding of the complex Everglades ecosystem. Michael Stoever provided superb support during and between meetings and was instrumental in producing the final report. Sarah Brennan shared meeting support with Michael and attended to the complex logistical needs of the committee. Simply put, this report would not have been possible without the NRC staff’s exceptional support and good humor. I know I speak for the entire committee in expressing our profound respect and appreciation.
This report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their breadth of perspectives and technical expertise in accordance with the procedures approved by the National Academies’ Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review was to provide candid and critical comments to assist the institution in ensuring that its published report is scientifi-
cally credible and that it meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The reviewer comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the deliberative process. We thank the following reviewers for their helpful suggestions, all of which were considered and many of which were wholly or partly incorporated in the final report: M. Siobhan Fennessy, Kenyon College; Elsa Garmire, Dartmouth College; Paul H. Glaser, University of Minnesota; Matthew C. Harwell, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Chris T. Hendrickson, Carnegie Mellon University; Wayne C. Huber, Oregon State University; Paul V. McCormick, Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center at Ichauway; Christopher McVoy, Independent Consultant; and Paul R. Wetzel, Smith College.
Although these reviewers provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions and recommendations nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Kenneth W. Potter, University of Wisconsin. Appointed by the NRC, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments received full consideration. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the NRC.
At the time of this writing, economic data suggest that economic recovery from the Great Recession of 2008 may finally be under way. However, state and federal budgets remain strained, and restoration has yet to begin in the core of the remnant Everglades 12 years after the CERP’s initiation. The cost of restoration in both time and money continues to increase disproportionately as the ecosystem further degrades. There are signs of hope. Despite their financial difficulties the state and federal governments remain committed to the CERP, and even more promising, the recently announced Central Everglades Planning Project proposes to focus restoration on the core of the remnant Everglades and to pilot a new way of doing business that will expedite the planning process and get restoration projects implemented. The fate of this national treasure rests on their success. We offer this report in support of that grand endeavor.
William G. Boggess, Chair
Committee on Independent Scientific Review of Everglades Restoration Progress (CISRERP)