FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sept. 11, 2012
GOVERNOR SCOTT AND DEP ANNOUNCE EVERGLADES RESTORATION PROJECTS
WILL MOVE FORWARD
~ DEP issues permits, consent orders ~
Projects to benefit America's Everglades will include additional stormwater treatment area acreage and flow equalization basins.
TALLAHASSEE – Governor Rick Scott announces that the Florida Department of
Environmental Protection issued final permits and
consent orders to the South Florida
Water Management District authorizing the operation and maintenance of existing
stormwater treatment areas and requiring the construction and
operation of treatment area expansions and water storage features as
part of the historic plan designed to improve
water quality in the Everglades. DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard, Jr. signed
the permits Monday, following a 21-day administrative
is an historic step forward in restoring
America’s Everglades," said Governor Scott. "This plan will result in significant water quality
improvements to the Everglades without raising or creating new costs for
Last October, Governor Scott directed Secretary Vinyard and South Florida Water Management District Executive
Director Melissa L. Meeker to work collaboratively with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to expand water
quality improvement projects necessary to achieve the ultra-low state water quality
standard established for the Everglades.
“Governor Scott made this historic plan a priority. And because of his leadership, we are addressing a long-standing environmental problem,” Vinyard said. “In less than a year, Florida developed an economically feasible plan that sets us on a landmark path to solve water quality issues in the Everglades."
This plan to improve water quality builds upon
$1.8 billion investment in Everglades water quality improvements to
achieve the 10 parts per billion ambient water quality standard for the
Protection Area. The schedule for implementing new projects balances
realities with engineering, permitting, science and construction
The plan proposes to utilize a combination of state and district
complete the projects.
After the Department was notified in June by EPA that a proposed National
Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit and associated consent order
satisfied EPA’s previous objections, the Department began the administrative process to issue both a federal National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit and a state Everglades Forever Act
permit with associated consent orders. On Aug. 9, water management district staff presented the projects to
the district's Governing Board, which approved the projects, paving the way for the 21-day period, which ended
Thursday. During that period, parties had the option of petitioning the permits.
The Department's permits and consent orders include milestones for
project completion, as well as enforcement mechanisms to ensure the
milestones are met. The plan calls for 6,500 acres of
state-of-the-art stormwater treatment areas and close to 110,000
acre-feet of associated water storage. Core project components will be designed, constructed and operational
within six years.
“This step is an important
milestone in our significant and unprecedented progress to restore the
Everglades. The South Florida Water Management District is grateful for
Governor Scott’s leadership in setting us on a clear path toward resolution of
this decades-long water quality challenge,” Meeker said. “With a science-based plan and state oversight, the District
is well positioned to construct this comprehensive suite of remedies that
promises to bring lasting protection to America’s Everglades.”
Highlights of the water quality improvement strategies include:
- State-issued and enforceable Everglades Forever Act and
Clean Water Act permits, including stringent discharge limits, for each of
the District’s stormwater treatment areas. Design, construction and completion of 90 percent
(99,000 acre-feet) of the required associated storage within four years.
Capable of storing 32 billion gallons of water, storage areas known as Flow Equalization
Basins will be located adjacent to existing stormwater treatment areas in
the Everglades. This advanced combination of “green” technologies will
better optimize water deliveries to new and existing treatment facilities,
allowing water managers to treat runoff to extremely low levels of
- Doubling the size of Stormwater Treatment Area 1-West
adjacent to the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. The District will
construct 4,700 acres of additional treatment by 2018 and start
construction on another 1,800 acres that same year. This expansion
spanning ten square miles will increase by 50 percent the treatment capacity
of water quality facilities currently discharging into the refuge.
- Improving treatment in the western Everglades by adding
11,000 acre-feet of associated storage in the C-139 Basin that is capable
of storing 3.5 billion gallons of water.
- Improving the operation of existing treatment wetlands
in the western Everglades by retrofitting 800 acres of constructed
wetlands in Stormwater Treatment Area 5.
- A robust science plan to ensure continued biological,
ecological and operational research to improve and optimize the
performance of water quality treatment technologies. The District’s
constructed wetlands and flow equalization basins utilize cutting-edge
science and engineering and are the largest of their kind in the
- Utilizing thousands of acres of land already in public
ownership, which minimizes impacts to Florida’s agricultural-based economy
and accelerates construction of new projects.
- Regional source controls in areas of the eastern
Everglades where phosphorus levels in runoff has been historically
Creation of approximately 1,550 direct jobs and 15,350 indirect jobs through
construction of these facilities.
To reduce nutrient pollution to the Everglades and achieve
state and federal water quality requirements, the District constructed massive
treatment wetlands known as stormwater treatment areas that use plants to
naturally remove phosphorus from water flowing into the Everglades. State law
also requires best management practices on the 640,000 acres of agricultural
land south of Lake Okeechobee.
More than 45,000 acres — or 70 square miles — of treatment
areas are today operational and treating water to average phosphorus levels of
less than 40 parts per billion and as low as 12 parts per billion. The District this summer completed construction
of an additional 11,500 acres, which are now operational. Together with best farming practices,
stormwater treatment areas have prevented more than 3,800 tons of phosphorus
from entering the Everglades since 1994. This past year, the treatment wetlands
treated 735,000 acre-feet of water and reduced the total phosphorus loads to the
Everglades Protection Area by 79 percent.
Copies of the permits and consent orders are available on the Department's website
. More background on Everglades restoration projects are available on the DEP Online Newsroom