Fifteen years ago, the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan was adopted by the U.S. Congress. It was estimated that CERP would cost $8.2 billion and take approximately 30 years to complete. Since then we have seen some progress, but also too many delays.
The South Florida Water Management District serves as Florida’s local sponsor providing 50 percent of the cost share and has taken the lead on moving some critical projects forward. However, the time has come to make Everglades restoration a priority.
It’s important to note the governor’s intent is to fund Everglades restoration from the Water and Land Legacy Amendment funds. The legislature should dedicate 25 percent of those funds to Everglades projects. The federal government must increase their funding so that approved projects can be constructed.
In 1999, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce assembled a group of diverse community, business and environmental leaders to produce a white paper titled, In South Florida the Environment is the Economy. It served as a call to action and helped conclude that investing in Everglades Restoration was good for business.
Recently, the GMCC adopted a resolution in support of the expedition of critical CERP projects in Miami-Dade. They include the C-111 Spreader Canal and Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands which will provide needed fresh water into Florida Bay and Biscayne Bay.
A recent Mather Economics study found that for every $1 invested in restoring the Everglades there’s a $4 return in economic benefits. Constructing these projects not only brings jobs and economic growth, but will also provide protection against sea level rise and salt water intrusion in our drinking water supply. There’s no more time to waste.
Irela M. Bagué, chair, Sustainability, Environment & Energy Committee,
Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce