Florida lawmakers today renewed their push to win congressional action on a major Everglades restoration project that has been mired in bureaucratic red tape.
The bipartisan group of federal legislators – led by Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Reps. Patrick Murphy (FL-18) and David Jolly (FL-13) – filed a bill Thursday to authorize the Central Everglades Planning Project, or CEPP.
CEPP is designed to increase water flow south into the Everglades, thereby reducing harmful discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers and improving the entire ecosystem.
This important project was not included in the last water bill because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had not completed a key report approving the project. That report finally was released on Dec. 23, 2014.
“Now that the Corps has signed off, we can’t waste any more time getting the money needed to restore an area that not only is at the heart of Florida’s environment, but also is a source of clean drinking water for so many in the state,” said Nelson, a longtime advocate for Everglades preservation and restoration.
Said Murphy, “With the Corps finalizing their Chief’s Report for CEPP, it is now time for Congress to do what we all know needs to happen – sending clean water south. I am proud that our delegation stands united in both chambers and both parties in pushing Congress to get this done, understanding how critical this project is to not only the Treasure Coast and Palm Beaches I am proud to represent, but the entire system across the state of Florida.”
Rubio added, “No single effort is more important to the future of the Everglades than the Central Everglades Planning Project, and I hope Congress will move quickly to approve it’s authorization. It’s not only a critical component to help ensure future generations can enjoy all the Everglades has to offer, but it is also a project that is essential to water management in Florida.”
And Jolly said, “The Everglades is a remarkable ecosystem that is one-of-a-kind due to the habitat it provides to thousands of species of plants and animals. It is also a source of drinking water for millions of residents in Florida. The Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) is critical to protecting and restoring this precious resource and will reduce the volume of polluted water devastating the coastal ecologies and economies. This innovative project is a major step towards restoring one of the Everglades and protecting it from future destruction.”
The CEPP project is a $2 billion series of engineering projects intended to collect and channel water around Lake Okeechobee south into the Everglades. Usually such a project would be included in a broader water resources bill Congress passes every few years but this legislation will allow the project to be expedited, the lawmakers said.