WELLINGTON, Fla. – At a news conference in Wellington, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the signing of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir’s Project Partnership Agreement.
The $3.4 billion agreement between the State of Florida and the federal government is a major step toward the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers beginning construction on the reservoir component of the EAA Reservoir Project. The project is designed to move harmful discharge away from Lake Okeechobee down to South Florida’s EAA Reservoir.
“This project is absolutely essential,” says DeSantis. He said that the agreement signed by both sides will officially allow the U.S. Army Corps to work in unison with the State of Florida to help restore the Everglades.
The EAA Reservoir will reduce and ultimately eliminate harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee. It will also help the southernmost points of the Everglades, especially during seasons of drought.
According to officials‚ when Lake Okeechobee’s water level gets too high, it threatens to flood nearby homes. That is when the South Florida Water Management district flushes the excess water to St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries. This, in turn, disrupts the ecosystem, and causes fish kills and algae blooms.
Soon, thanks to the EAA Reservoir, instead of sending the harmful water east and west of Lake Okeechobee, the water will first be cleaned and then diverted south to Florida Bay, which is in between the Keys and the mainland. The freshwater injection will balance the salinity level of the bay, which right now has too much saltwater.
A year ago, the State of Florida started building the stormwater treatment area where the water will be cleaned. Now, the federal government has pledged to build the reservoir next to the treatment area so the clean water can be stored until it’s needed.
“A healthy Everglades ecosystem equals, very clearly, prosperity and economic wellbeing for all Floridians,” says Everglades National Park Superintendent Pedro Ramos.
Construction of the reservoir is anticipated to get started by late 2021, 12 months ahead of schedule.