Florida Gov. DeSantis Announces Major Milestone To Advance EAA Reservoir Project

Today, Governor Ron DeSantis was joined by Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Noah Valenstein and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) to announce significant progress on the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir Project.

The South Florida Water Management District Governing Board unanimously approved an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers this morning that keeps the Corps on track to begin federal construction on the reservoir component this year.

In April 2020, Governor DeSantis announced that the South Florida Water Management District began construction on the State of Florida’s component of the project, the stormwater treatment area, 12 months ahead of schedule.

“Today marks a critical milestone for Everglades restoration and achieving our state’s long-term environmental goals,” said Governor DeSantis. “When I took office, I made expediting the EAA Reservoir Project a top priority. Signing this agreement means we are another step closer to moving more clean water south through the Everglades and reducing harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries.”

“Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, DEP and the South Florida Water Management District have expedited the state’s portion of the EAA Reservoir project, beginning construction 12 months ahead of schedule,” said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. “The signing of the Project Partnership Agreement today is an important step that will enable the Corps to initiate construction of the federal portion of this project. I challenge the Corps to match the state’s momentum and sense of urgency on this critical project that will significantly reduce harmful discharges to the northern estuaries and send more water south for the benefit of the Everglades ecosystem and the people of Florida.”

“Three short years ago, the oddsmakers would have been betting heavily against us standing here today. Moving forward on the construction of the EAA reservoir has been an uphill battle. But we are here today, and we are moving forward with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” said Chauncey Goss, Chairman of the South Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board. “This is simply a testament to how government can work for the people when strong leaders engage. Governor DeSantis has kept his eyes firmly on the prize and has never wavered in his support of this project, even when it was politically expedient to throw in the towel. Because of his leadership, along with support from the Florida Legislature, and dedication of the SFWMD Governing Board and staff, we are moving full steam ahead to complete the EAA Reservoir Project. Today’s agreement is critical to restoring the health of our estuaries and the Everglades, and we look forward to the U.S. Army Corps breaking ground on their portion of the EAA Reservoir Project as soon as possible.”

“The EAA Reservoir is the indispensable component to stop the Lake Okeechobee discharges once and for all,” said Joe Negron, Former President of the Florida Senate. “Early on Governor DeSantis promised the citizens of Florida that he would build this Reservoir. He kept his word and never wavered. That is why we are here this morning — victorious.”

“We are here because of the leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Legislature, who listened to the people of Florida and put completion of this critical reservoir on a fast track,” said Eric Eikenberg, CEO of The Everglades Foundation. “It would not have happened without the tenacious determination of former Senate President Joe Negron, who was steadfast in making this project a reality. Thanks to their persistence, we begin construction a full year ahead of schedule. Completion of the EAA Reservoir, together with others already under construction, will reduce algae-causing discharges from Lake Okeechobee by more than half and provide a source of life-giving fresh clean water to America’s Everglades and Florida Bay.”

“The EAA Reservoir is a cornerstone project that will help keep Everglades National Park wetlands and Florida Bay supplied with fresh, clean water, especially during the drier months when we need it,” said Pedro Ramos, Superintendent of Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Parks. “This is an important step forward and the greatest gift for the Everglades on this Earth Day.”

The EAA Reservoir Project is one of the most important Everglades restoration projects for reducing harmful discharges to the northern estuaries and sending more clean water south to the Everglades. Governor DeSantis expedited this critical Everglades project on his second day in office with the signing of Executive Order 19-12. Since taking office, Governor DeSantis also secured record Everglades restoration funding to support this and other key projects and signed important environmental legislation into law, including the Clean Waterways Act.

The EAA Reservoir Project is a joint Everglades restoration project between the South Florida Water Management District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, Florida continues to take the lead in Everglades restoration. The South Florida Water Management District began building the water-cleansing marsh called a Stormwater Treatment Area last year, and today’s agreement enables the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build the accompanying storage reservoir. The EAA Reservoir Project will benefit both Florida’s environment and economy. In addition to more clean water for the Everglades, the project is creating jobs and providing a significant boost to the nearby local economies south of Lake Okeechobee.

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