Everglades restoration cleared another hurdle Tuesday when the chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers signed off on chronically stalled work needed to move water south through the central wetlands and Florida Bay.
The move puts back on track projects that environmentalists had hoped to finalize earlier this year. Despite letters from lawmakers, including Gov. Rick Scott and the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, the Corps balked at approving the work in April, preventing it from being included in a major waterworks bill that typically languishes among bipartisan bickering.
In September, Florida lawmakers mounted a rare united effort to push through bipartisan legislation authorizing $1.9 billion in projects.
“No longer will bureaucratic red tape and finger pointing stand in the way of what we all know needs to get done – sending clean water south,” said U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, who helped steer the law.
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The suite of projects, called the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP), was pulled from a larger Everglades restoration plan in an attempt to speed up work that has dragged on for more than a decade. The report will now go to the Secretary of the Army and the Office of Management and Budget, but is not expected to face opposition.
“The CEPP process is an excellent example of how the Corps is executing transformation in its civil works processes” Col. Alan Dodd, the Corps’ Jacksonville district commander, said in a statement. “We are making the planning process more modern and relevant, enhancing our budgeting capability, and improving our methods of delivery.”