ELC – alongside and on behalf of many Everglades restoration advocates – was deeply involved in the public process developing and deciding on the “final” operations plan for the significant new infrastructure built south of Tamiami Trail. These new structures and projects were created to move water through the historic Everglades flowway in Northeast Shark River Slough and into Everglades National Park and Florida Bay. More infrastructure is currently being built as part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (“CERP”). In the coming years, the operations plan will again be revisited to ensure it appropriately maximizes the restoration potential of new CERP infrastructure.
Specifically, the Modified Water Deliveries (“Mod-Waters”) and C-111 South Dade (C-111/South Dade”) Projects are federal-state partnerships and were designed to achieve some degree of Everglades restoration before CERP was agreed to in 2000. Getting these “pre-CERP” projects built and then designing an operations plan to maximize restoration flows through the new structures and detention areas was a mighty and lengthy task, one that took the form of many iterative operations plans implemented as additional infrastructure was completed.
We understand that COP is one piece of the restoration puzzle, and will work collaboratively with other projects to improve the overall health of the Greater Everglades….However, we should not wait until CEPP South or the EAA Reservoir are complete before sending more water to the Everglades – these projects will take years to complete, and the Everglades cannot afford to wait. It is the responsibility of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to find more water to send south to Everglades National Park via operational flexibility at every opportunity….The Corps must do everything it can to ensure that taxpayers’ $1 billion investment enables commensurate benefits to the federal parkland and natural resources.August 2020 letter to Corps from ELC and others regarding COP Final EIS
Scoping for the “final” operations plan for the Mod-Waters and C-111/South Dade Projects, which became known as the “Combined Operations Plan” or COP, began in 2017 and the plan was finalized in late 2020. ELC advocated for maximizing Everglades restoration as part of public processes under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) and federal Clean Water Act.