Everglades Water Quality Improvements
The state of Florida continues to recognize the importance of the Everglades to the state’s environment, economy and way of life, and remains committed to working with our local, state and federal partners to restore this one-of-a-kind ecosystem.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection received notification on June 13, 2012, from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that the permits and associated projects the Department submitted on June 6 satisfy all of the EPA’s previous objections and are sufficient to achieve the stringent water quality requirements for the Everglades. This action paves the way for the Department to move forward with the state’s permitting process to implement a historic plan — including an achievable strategy and enforceable schedule for constructing an array of treatment projects and associated water storage — to improve water quality in the Everglades.
Under the leadership of Governor Rick Scott, DEP and South Florida Water Management District scientists worked to develop a scientifically-sound and technically-feasible course of action that resolves a long-standing and long-recognized environmental challenge. Months of collaborative dialogue with the EPA has resulted in a rigorous and enforceable path for fully achieving stringent water quality requirements and delivering measureable and permanent results for the Everglades.
More information about the permit submittal and Florida’s plan to improve water quality in the Everglades can be found below.
- Letter from EPA Region IV Administration Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming to DEP Secretary Vinyard.
- Letter from DEP Secretary Vinyard to EPA Region IV Administration Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming.
- Questions and Answers: Everglades Water Quality Improvements. [UPDATED 4/1/2013]
- Presentation to the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board, June 4, 2012.
- Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit with accompanying consent order.
- Supporting Information.
With local, state and federal partners, DEP is working on the largest environmental restoration project in the world – restoring America’s Everglades. We are returning a more natural water flow to the 2.4 million-acre marsh, reviving habitat for more than 60 threatened and endangered species, establishing a reliable supply of water for millions of Floridians and providing flood control to the south Florida area. Currently, Governor Rick Scott, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and South Florida Water Management District are working with federal partners on a strategy for improving water quality and sending cleaner water south to the vast ecosystem, while protecting jobs and the state’s economy. Our federal partners include the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Interior, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Department of Justice.
Governor Rick Scott statement regarding Everglades Restoration, Oct. 6, 2011
On Oct. 6, 2011, Governor Rick Scott, along with DEP Secretary Herschel Vinyard and South Florida Water Management District Director Melissa Meeker, met with U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Deputy Secretary of Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy to reaffirm Florida’s long-standing commitment to restoring America’s Everglades. During the meeting of state and federal principals, Governor Scott outlined a strategy for improving water quality in the Everglades, while at the same time protecting jobs and the state’s economy. The following is a statement from Governor Scott after the Everglades restoration principals meeting.
“Florida remains steadfast in its commitment to restoring America’s Everglades. The state has invested significant resources to improving water quality and supply for this unique ecosystem and South Florida’s 7.7 million residents. Yet we recognize there is more work to do. I traveled to Washington, D.C., to ask our federal and state Everglades restoration partners to agree on a strategy that puts the ecosystem first and prevents costly, ongoing litigation from derailing our mutual progress toward restoration.
“A strong Florida partnership will help usher in the next generation of projects that will improve water quality in South Florida, while still protecting jobs and the state’s economy. The proposed plan directs the Department of Environmental Protection and the South Florida Water Management District to build on the state’s $1.8 billion investment in water quality improvements and move forward with additional remedies that will achieve the stringent water quality requirements established for the Everglades.
“This plan puts to use strategic lands already in public ownership so that these projects can be authorized and built promptly, in the right locations and at a reasonable cost to the taxpayers. A healthy Everglades is part of a healthy economy. Yet it is also one of America’s treasures. It fully deserves our best efforts to resolve differences, re-focus on our goals and deliver results. This strategy can make that happen.”
- DEP Press Release, Oct. 6, 2011: Florida Meets with Federal Leaders, Reaffirms Florida’s Commitment To Everglades Restoration
- Letter to Governor Scott from Federal Partners
Continuing our commitment: Florida’s Ranchlands Helping to Preserve Landscapes, Protect and Improve Waters, Nov. 29, 2011
New land management strategy achieves environmental benefits, keeps lands on tax rolls, sustains jobs.
On Nov. 29, 2011, leaders of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) marked the expansion of an innovative, cost-saving land management strategy with the signing of partnership agreements with eight Florida ranchers. Water managers are collaborating with landowners to achieve water storage, water quality and habitat improvement benefits north of Lake Okeechobee but at less cost than traditional government land acquisition programs.
DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. and SFWMD Executive Director Melissa Meeker met with landowners at the Dixie Cattle Ranch in Okeechobee County to finalize the new agreements that will store 4,800 acre-feet of water on private lands and improve water quality in Lake Okeechobee, the coastal estuaries and the Everglades.
The ranchlands — totaling 9,500 acres across three counties — have become part of the SFWMD’s Dispersed Water Management Program to store water on public, private and tribal lands. The program is an important new tool that is helping to improve water quality, protect water resources and conserve Florida’s habitats. At the same time, using working ranchlands to achieve environmental benefits also helps sustain jobs, keeps land on local tax rolls and avoids burdening taxpayers with new debt to buy title to the land. The effort parallels the water resource goals of Florida’s successful land acquisition programs without the higher cost of buying and managing land.
“Getting the water right is central to every aspect of Florida life and its future,” said DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. “Collaborating with property owners to store excess water helps advance the conservation and natural resource protection goals of highly successful environmental protection programs, without the high cost of land acquisition, the burden of ongoing debt payments and leaving landowners to do what they do best — manage the land and support our economy.”
“Shallow water storage coupled with large regional reservoirs provides additional tools for better managing water in the regional system and protecting South Florida’s water resources,” said SFWMD Executive Director Melissa Meeker. ”The Dispersed Water Management Program is an innovative way of involving private partners in environmental solutions and achieving our goals for water storage, water quality and habitat enhancement in a fiscally responsible way for taxpayers.”
More on Dispersed Water Management Program: Florida’s Ranchlands Helping to Preserve Landscapes, Protect and Improve Waters
In the news
It’s About Florida: Everglades, Dec. 9, 2011. Listen to Secretary Vinyard and South Florida Water Management Executive Director Melissa Meeker talk about water storage, water quality and habitat improvement benefits north of Lake Okeechobee due to partnership agreements with eight Florida ranchers.