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The Florida Legislature Creates the Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program (NEEP)

The state legislature expands the Lake Okeechobee Protection Act of 2000 to include projects to restore and protect the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers and Estuaries. The Act includes, among other projects, the Phase II Technical Plan of the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Construction Project, the St. Lucie River Watershed Protection Plan, and the Caloosahatchee River Watershed Protection Plan.

The Phase II Technical Plan: Identifies construction projects and other measures to reduce the amount of pollution entering the Lake. It also identifies the need for more storage north of Lake Okeechobee (900,000 to 1.3 million acre-feet) to reduce discharges into the estuaries.  This includes above-ground reservoirs, underground storage, and alternative water storage projects on public and private lands.

The St. Lucie River Watershed Protection Plan: Aimed at reducing nutrient loads into the watershed.  It calls for implementation of BMPs on agricultural and urban lands, construction of 11,800 acres of reservoirs and 8,500 acres of STAs, restoration of 95,000 acres of wetlands and natural areas within the St. Lucie watershed, muck removal, and an additional 200,000 acre feet of water storage within the watershed.

The Caloosahatchee River Watershed Protection Plan: Similarly calls for BMPs, construction of 36,000 acres of reservoirs and 15,000 acres of STAs, wetland restoration, and an additional 400,000 acre-feet of water storage in the watershed.

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