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Monday, Nov 24, 2014
Editorials

Give Everglades prompt action

Published:

It would be a disgrace, after all the effort that has been devoted to reviving the Florida Everglades, for a state agency to pull the plug on that momentum.

Conservationists are rightly worried that the South Florida Water Management District has yet to endorse $2.2 billion in work needed to restore a more natural water flow to the central section of the Everglades.

As The Miami Herald reports, the state agency needs to agree to cosponsor the Central Everglades Planning Project by July. Otherwise, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers probably won't be able to include it in its congressional funding requests this year. Work could be delayed for years.

The federal government and Florida are sharing the costs of restoring the Everglades, an appropriate arrangement because both played a role in making a mess of this hydrological wonder with a network of dikes and canals that disrupted the Everglades' natural flow.

Water district officials understandably want to know the likely costs of the projects, particularly future operating costs for the pumps, dikes and other components of the water movement system.

But the state is already committed to the Everglades' revival. Gov. Rick Scott, to his credit, signed into law a $32 million allocation this spring, part of his $880 million long-term Everglades restoration plan.

As conservationists point out, the endorsement doesn't commit the district to spending any specific amount, but does make clear the district and the state back moving forward. The work will also help stop the dumping of polluted water in the Caloosahatchee and the St. Lucie rivers, which has caused fish kills.

Beyond saving a national marvel, restoring the Everglades will help sustain South Florida's water supply, clean up Florida Bay, and protect the fishing and tourism industries.

Florida leaders have been working on saving the Everglades for decades. Now is no time for the South Florida Water District to derail everything.

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