The following letter was addressed to The Honorable Shalanda Young, Acting Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget:
Dear Acting Director Young,
The undersigned organizations dedicated to restoring America’s Everglades write to emphasize the imperative next step in restoring this national and global treasure. We request that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers award the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir embankment contract with Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 funding. Approval of the ability to award the full contract – via full funding or an incremental funding approach – as part of the FY23 President’s Budget is the prudent and efficient long-term decision. This would enable the move from design to construction of the most important project for Everglades restoration – the EAA Reservoir. Thank you for the Administration’s demonstrated commitment to restoring America’s Everglades. This action would double-down on the climate and restoration momentum in South Florida.
The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan is a system of complex projects unlike any other. Construction of the EAA Reservoir will reconnect Lake Okeechobee back to the Everglades, Everglades National Park, and Florida Bay. By storing, cleaning, and sending freshwater south, restored Everglades wetlands can function once again as an effective carbon bank, sequestering and storing carbon in massive quantities.The reservoir will also function as a critical source of freshwater that will recharge the Biscayne Aquifer. Today, 9 million Floridians from all walks of life and millions of visiting tourists rely upon the Everglades for drinking water. Further, hydrological modeling shows the water storage capability of the EAA Reservoir will reduce harmful discharges to the east and west coasts of Florida by 55% and safeguard those economies and communities. Not only is the EAA Reservoir the crown jewel project of Everglades restoration, but it will also create synergies amongst existing and future projects, and solidify our country’s prowess to combat climate change on a massive scale.
As is shown by the December 2021 Congressional letters requesting $725 million in FY23 President’s Budget, Everglades restoration and the EAA Reservoir are historically bipartisan issues. The EAA Reservoir is the clear priority at the state and Federal level. In 2017, the Florida Legislature passed Senate Bill 10, requiring the state to expedite the design and construction of the EAA Reservoir.In 2020, Congress authorized the EAA Reservoir and the Congressional record annually demonstrates this as the priority project in the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration program. The EAA reservoir is also the clear priority for our local and national organizations and countless Floridians. The completion of the EAA Reservoir on schedule will restore the historical flow of freshwater of the River of Grass and enable Everglades restoration to become a reality.