EAA reservoir still 9 years away

WEST PALM BEACH — The Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) reservoir project is on track but even if everything runs smoothly, the reservoir won’t be complete until 2028 according to a report shared at the Sept. 12 meeting of the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board.

SFWMD Governing Board Member Jacqui Thurlow Lippisch shared an update about the EAA reservoir project from a discussion she had with project manager Leslie Waugh.

“She and her team are working every day for the EAA,” said Ms. Thurlow-Lippisch.

The work falls mainly into two categories: Design work and contract work.

“A design contract has been secured for the storm water treatment area with the contractor Brown and Caldwell,” she continued.

“Right now there is a lot of pre-construction engineering occurring. This includes a team of people. Their field work includes surveys and geotechnical site work to understand the site conditions for thousands of acres. The total site is about 17,000 acres. They have to do all of the geotechnical work to understand that those lands are ‘buildable.’ This must be known before anything can be designed and built.

“Another part of the SFWMD planning work includes a back and forth between SFWMD and the Army Corps of Engineers for the post authorization change report.

“This is part of a federal Section 203 review that must be completed,” she said. SFWMD and the corps are figuring all the details to adapt the Central Everglades Planning Project to include the EAA reservoir.

This process began in October 2018 and should be complete by April 2020, she said.

“They are looking for things like cultural resources and impacts to endangered species … We want those things protected, of course, so it might take some time,” she continued.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/USACOE
WEST PALM BEACH — Lt. Col. Todd Polk (left), the incoming Deputy Commander for South Florida, & Lt. Col. Jennifer Reynolds (second from right), who was honored Sept. 12 for her service, got up close and personal with one of the invasive pythons that can reach 20 ft. long and 200 lbs.

SFWMD hopes to receive the permit from the corps to start building the STA intake canal by early next year. The STA construction is expected to start in June 2021.

After the federal approvals are in place, the corps hopes to begin building the reservoir after three years of design. That would mean starting construction in 2023 and finishing around 2028.

The STA can start functioning without the reservoir, she said.

She said all of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan projects are designed to work together and compliment each other.

“This process is long. It is easy to be impatient, but the goal is to do the right thing the first time,” she said.

Publisher/Editor Katrina Elsken can be reached at kelsken@newszap.com

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