PRIORITIES

The Corps of Engineers has a process for setting priorities called the Integrated Delivery System.

We get to be part of that process in the next month  for the the Everglades  Restoration project.

Meetings will be at :

South Florida Water Management District Headquarters, Building 1, 3301 Gun Club Rd., West Palm Beach.

The first meeting was on Monday, January 26th to listen and learn.

The second meeting was Monday, February 2nd. This was an “interactive meeting”.  Each of a dozen tables worked up what they thought should be the priorities and made a presentation to the whole group.

The Corps will take all of those presentations and get back to us at the next meeting with some options to discuss and rate.

There will be another meeting on March 8. and a final meeting on March 27.  You can still participate. Catch up on what you missed by going to:

http://www.evergladesrestoration.gov/content/ids.html

This is not about making speeches to get pet projects approved.

Priorities need to be based on principles. It can’t be a free-for-all “me first!” game. Our principles include:

The overriding principle for estuary lovers and River Warriors is that without fixing the whole system in a comprehensive way, we can’t fix our part. It’s all about the Greater Everglades Ecosystem from Orlando to the Keys. It’s not about a single part.

Principle 1 – take advantage of unique opportunities that will not come again and are needed to make CERP work.

Principle 2 – Practice “adaptive management” so when one part of CERP doesn’t work out, an alternate strategy is adopted to make the whole Plan work.

Principle 3 – finish what you start. Half finished construction projects are not cost effective. The state needs to be buying land and lobbying Congress to fund construction projects.

Principle 4 – buy the land now for authorized CERP projects. Planned projects won’t ever get built if the land isn’t there. Putting acquisition off ten or twenty years ensures that the Plan can’t work as designed because the projects can’t be located where they need to be.

We talked about the fact that there should be three concurrent priority list for land acquisition, planning, and project construction.

Practically speaking our principles support the following specific concurrent priorities:

1 – buy land in the EAA to send the water south. That’s the key to an making CERP work. The CERP Plan says we have to have 360,000 acre feet of storage in the EAA. We have to buy the land now if that is going to happen.

2 – get  the Central Everglades Planning Process (CEPP) approved by Congress. That’s step 1 in projects to the water south.

3 – complete the C-44 Reservoir, the Tamiami Trail Bridges, the C-111 Project and other already authorized projects where construction has begun. Use federal funds for construction projects until such time as the state has caught up with its land buying responsibilities.

4 – finish buying the land necessary to implement authorized CERP components within the next five years. That includes all the lands identified in the IRL-South Plan that covers the  watershed in Martin and St. Lucie County

5 - Recognize that the St. Lucie Estuary is in danger of ecological collapse. Resolve land issues on the C23-C24 reservoirs so planning and construction can commence.