Belle Glade Sun

New website increases outreach, highlights SFWMD Public Restoration Planning Workshops

Workshops garner public input for Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan planning projects

WEST PALM BEACH — The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) will conduct public workshops to garner critical public input needed to complete several planning projects that are part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), including the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project (LOWRP) and the Western Everglades Restoration Project (WERP).

“These planning processes guide the future of Everglades restoration,” said SFWMD Governing Board Chairman Dan O’Keefe. “These forums will ensure public participation through the entirety of these planning processes.”

As part of SFWMD’s extensive public outreach for these workshops, the District unveiled its new website this week where interested parties can get information about the planning projects as well as upcoming workshops where they can offer input.

The Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project, which began July 2016, seeks to identify a slate of storage options, including the use of ASR wells and above-ground reservoirs to store water north of Lake Okeechobee. The project will improve the quantity, timing and distribution of flows into the 730-square-mile Lake Okeechobee. These measures will also aid in reducing damaging discharges from the lake to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries.

The Western Everglades Restoration Project, which began August 2016, will develop a plan to restore and reconnect the western portion of the Everglades ecosystem into the greater Everglades. The project will improve water quality, re-establish sheetflow from the West Feeder Canal across the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation and into Big Cypress National Preserve and maintain existing levels of flood protection.

Completion of these planning projects are part of the overall strategy devised decades ago to restore America’s Everglades ecosystem. They are also part of the Integrated Delivery Schedule, a carefully crafted sequencing plan created using extensive public input, which governs the completion of projects to maximize the benefit of taxpayer dollars for restoration.

The public is welcome to attend and offer their views at the workshops. The next two workshops are related to LOWRP and will be held on July 27 at SFWMD’s Okeechobee Service Center, 3800 NW 16th Blvd, Suita A, Okeechobee; and July 28 at SFWMD’s Headquarters, B-1 Auditorium, 3301 Gun Club Road, West Palm Beach. Materials presented at the two workshops will be identical.

To learn more about ongoing SFWMD planning projects that are a part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan visit www.sfwmd.gov/our-work/cerp-project-planning/lowrp.