FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 5, 2014
DEP ISSUES PERMIT FOR HERBERT HOOVER
~New culverts will replace decades old devices to increase structural integrity around Lake Okeechobee~
TALLAHASSEE –On Friday, the Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Ecosystem Projects issued a consolidated Environmental Resource Permit, or ERP, to the United States Army Corps of Engineers for the Herbert Hoover Dike (HHD) Repair and Rehabilitation Project (R&R Project). The permit authorizes construction and replacement of Culverts 2, 12A and HP-2 with new water control structures S-278 (C-2), S-274 (C-12A) and S-287 (C-HP-2).
In an effort to streamline the regulatory process for the rehabilitation and repair project, the department developed a comprehensive approach that will reduce the timeframe necessary to process future culvert replacement activities associated with the dike. The department estimates this proactive comprehensive approach will save over 1,000 work hours, more than $40,000 in tax payers money and will result in a significant reduction in time needed for future permit authorizations.
"The residents of South Florida are dependant upon a stable dike around Lake Okeechobee," said DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. "DEP was able to streamline its permitting process for critical dike rehabilitation projects to alleviate flooding and environmental concerns for residents in the communities impacted by Lake Okeechobee."
The HHD R&R Project is intended to reduce the risk of flooding, piping and seepage as a result of higher lake levels. The dike, which was constructed in the early to mid-1900s, is comprised of gravel, rock, limestone, sand and shell and does not currently meet the rigorous standards for dams and levees that exist today; limiting the flexibility of water managers with regard to lake operations. Enhancements to the HHD are critical to the restoration of the Everglades, and last year, the state urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (Corps) to expedite work on this dike system.
The culvert repair project is one component of the Corps comprehensive HHD R&R Project to enhance the stability of the 143 mile earthen dike around Lake Okeechobee. Replacement of the culverts will strengthen particular areas of the dike, reducing the risk of seepage, piping and levee failure when Lake Okeechobee reaches certain water levels. The project is located within five counties: Glades, Hendry, Martin, Okeechobee and Palm Beach.
The Office of Ecosystem Projects and the Corps coordinated closely for several months to produce this consolidated Environmental Resource Permit which will reduce the timeframes for processing the remaining 13 culverts for fiscal year 2014 through fiscal year 2018. The consolidated ERP eliminates the need to issue individual permits for each fiscal year culvert replacement. The HHD R&R Project has been ongoing since 2007 and is estimated to have all culverts replaced by 2018.