Corps, SFWMD making progress on Everglades restoration

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JACKSONVILLE — Updates to the Integrated Delivery Schedule (IDS) were reviewed at the Integrated Delivery Schedule public virtual workshop on Sept 17.

The workshop was conducted online due to efforts to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Eva B. Velez, of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said some changes in the IDS since Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 are due to funding allocated for the projects.

• The federal FY 20 budget is $235 million.
• The non-federal FY 20 budget is $363 million.
• President’s budget for FY 2021 is $250 million.
• State of Florida’s budget for FY 2021 is $258 million.

“The federal and non-federal sides make progress on Everglades restoration every day,” said Velez.
She said the updated IDS will be released at Oct 22 SFER Task Force Meeting.
“We always keep an eye on the cost share,” said Velez. “We’re excited this year of the anticipated authorization of projects in the 2020 Water Resources Development Act.”
She said the 2020 WRDA is the key to put more projects on the IDS.
The purpose of the IDS is to show the strategy for planning, design and construction.
“It’s about what’s to come in the next 10 years,” she explained. “It helps us synchronize the program with other partners.”
In addition to authorized Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) projects, the IDS includes some non-CERP and foundation projects that are needed for CERP to be successful.
For example, the Herbert Hoover Dike rehabilitation, which is on track to be complete by 2022, is not a CERP project, but is critical for the success of CERP.
About $6 billion has been spent on South Florida ecosystem restoration through FY 2019, she said. Another $7.4 billion is needed for projects through 2030. This does not include projects that have already been authorized in a Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) bill.
“We are ready to go. We have big work to do,” she said. The work always depends on funding, she explained. Congress can pass a WRDA every two years, but does not always do so. Sometimes there have been gaps of up to seven years between WRDAs.
“The yellow book continues to be our road map,” she said. The “yellow book” refers to th 68 CERP components authorized in 2000. (This plan was originally published with a yellow cover.)
With the state of Florida and Congress, we have:
“The South Florida Ecosystem, known as America’s Everglades, is both nationally significant and unique in the world,” she said. CERP will restore, protect and preserve this natural resource.
“With support from Congress and the State of Florida, we have accomplished big things for America’s Everglades and our economy,” she said. “A healthy and resilient Everglades directly supports our economy and sustainability.
“With continued support from Congress and the State of Florida, we will accomplish more.”

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