CERP: The Plan in Depth - Part 8
Benefits of the Plan

The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan will provide multiple benefits to the south Florida ecosystem, as well as the economy.

With the implementation of the plan, improvements will be made by:

  • Restoring natural flows of water, water quality and hydroperiods
  • Improving the health of more than 2.4 million acres of the south Florida ecosystem, including the Everglades and Biscayne National Park
  • Improving hydrologic conditions will result in Lake Okeechobee once again, becoming a healthy lake
  • Improving native flora and fauna, including threatened and endangered species
  • Ensuring a reliable, adequate supply of fresh water for use by all – the environment, urban and agriculture
  • Maintaining flood protection set in place by the C&SF project.
  • Creating wide-ranging economic benefits, not only for Florida, but the entire nation

For more detailed information on the above benefits see below:

Ecosystem Restoration

The Comprehensive Plan will restore, protect and preserve a natural treasure - the greater Everglades ecosystem. This national resource is unlike any other ecosystem in the world. Immediate actions are necessary to maintain and restore this extraordinary ecosystem. The Comprehensive Plan affords this opportunity to preserve an Everglades legacy for generations to come.

The Plan's focus has been on recovering critical ecological features of the original Everglades and other parts of the ecosystem. The Plan will restore natural flows of water, water quality, and hydroperiods. The removal of more than 240 miles of internal levees and canals will improve the health of more than 2.4 million acres of the south Florida ecosystem, including Everglades and Biscayne National Park. The restoration of hydrologic conditions of the original natural areas of the south Florida ecosystem will result in Lake Okeechobee once again becoming a healthy lake. Major benefits will be provided to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries and Lake Worth Lagoon. The Plan will also improve fresh water deliveries to Florida and Biscayne bays. The greater Everglades ecosystem will be much healthier than it is today. Improvements to native flora and fauna, including threatened and endangered species, will occur as a result of the restoration of the hydrologic conditions.

Capturing and Storing Water

The Plan's predominant feature is water storage. The Plan captures most of the average 1.7 billion gallons of water a day discharged to the ocean. This water will be stored in more than 217,000 acres of new reservoirs and wetlands-based treatment areas, and about 300 underground Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) wells. These features vastly increase the amount of water storage available in south Florida. The Plan will ensure a reliable, adequate supply of fresh water for all use sectors - the environment, urban and agriculture. Approximately 80 percent of the new water captured by the Plan will go to the environment and 20 percent will be used to enhance urban and agricultural supplies.

Flood Protection

Florida is a low-lying, flat, wet state, and is prone to flooding. Today, the C&SF Project provides flood protection on a regional basis for south Florida, supported by many locally operated canal networks. The Comprehensive Plan will maintain, and potentially improve, this important flood protection element of the C&SF Project.

Economic Benefits

Implementation of the Comprehensive Plan will result in wide-ranging economic benefits, not only for Florida, but the entire nation. Recreation, tourism, agriculture and commercial fishing industries are key components of the Florida economy, restoration of the south Florida ecosystem will help make these industries stronger and more sustainable. These industries also make a significant contribution to the national economy. Visitors from around the country, indeed from around the world, travel to the Everglades, Florida Bay and the many other natural areas of south Florida. Fish and seafood harvested from our coastal waters are shipped to markets across the country and the world.

These Multiple Benefits Will Make South Florida Sustainable

Without intervention, the region will experience continued degradation (frequent water shortages) of the Everglades, coastal estuaries, fisheries, and other natural resources; and more frequent flooding. Implementation of the Plan will result in the recovery of healthy, sustainable ecosystems in south Florida. It is a plan that will lead to a strong economy and a much-improved environment for people and the plants and animals that depend on the natural system for their survival.

The Comprehensive Plan contains components essential to achieving this goal. No other plan, especially one on a smaller scale or one lacking appropriate balance between ecosystem restoration and future urban and agricultural water supply objectives, would achieve similar success.

 

Next: Part 9 - Implementation of the Plan