SFWMD Celebrates Ribbon Cutting to Support Everglades Restoration and Mitigate Flooding

April 24, 2024 Services

Key Restoration Project Supports Florida’s Enhanced Efforts to Restore the Everglades

Today, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers joined local, state, federal and tribal officials as well as stakeholders to cut the ribbon on the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) New Water Seepage Barrier Wall Project, which extends the successful underground wall that was built as part of the 8.5 Square Mile Area Seepage Wall Project.

The project supports ongoing restoration efforts to move water south through the Everglades and into Florida Bay while mitigating potential flooding impacts in communities outside of Everglades National Park. It was completed 8 months ahead of schedule.

“This seepage wall has been discussed for decades, but under Governor Ron DeSantis it was designed AND built. It’s proven to be effective at fostering delivery of water south to Everglades National Park and Florida Bay, while simultaneously providing improved flood protection for the Las Palmas community in Miami-Dade County,” said South Florida Water Management District Governing Board Member “Alligator Ron” Bergeron. “Since 2019, the SFWMD has celebrated 70 project completions, groundbreakings, and other major milestones. Our success would not be possible without the leadership of Governor DeSantis and the record investments made by our Florida Legislature. We also greatly appreciate our partners and stakeholders who are strongly committed to doing everything they can to restore and protect the Everglades. Long live the Everglades!”

“The work undertaken by the South Florida Water Management District over the years have significantly enhanced the ecological landscape within Miami-Dade County and set a precedent for regions statewide,” said Senator Ana Maria Rodriguez. “Moreover, the culmination of this landmark project underscores our commitment to safeguarding the enduring the beauty and ecological integrity of the Everglades, ensuring its paramount importance in state conservation efforts for generations to come.”

“Thanks to the leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis and the hard work of our partners, including the South Florida Water Management District, we are able to continue our forward momentum with critical projects like this, that will keep water in Everglades National Park while mitigating flooding in the Las Palmas community,” said Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Shawn Hamilton. “Moving more water south through the Everglades to Florida Bay supports overall restoration goals and today’s ribbon cutting marks another important step forward in restoring America’s Everglades.”

“Everglades restoration is an enormous undertaking that cannot be accomplished alone. We are fortunate to have such a strong partnership with the South Florida Water Management District,” said Maj. Cory Bell, USACE Jacksonville District Deputy Commander for South Florida. “These projects provide critical benefits to improve the health of the ecosystem, including endangered species habitat, improve the water supply, improve flood risk management, and improve resilience to climate change and sea level rise. Another piece of the puzzle is completed in an enormously complex system.”

“This project is truly a lesson in innovation. For decades, the highly permeable limestone allowed water to seep out of Everglades National Park, where it was needed most,” said Superintendent Pedro Ramos of Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Parks. “Thanks to the collaborative work of our partners, this seepage wall will allow the park to receive and retain the vital water flows that are necessary to restore the Everglades.”

“It is a great day for Everglades National Park, Florida Bay, and our community as we celebrate the completion of the Seepage Wall Project. This underground wall is an engineering achievement that will not only help keep water inside Everglades National Park and enable freshwater to flow south to Florida Bay, which desperately needs it, but it will also protect nearby communities from flooding,” said Eric Eikenberg, CEO, The Everglades Foundation. “We thank Governor Ron DeSantis for his leadership and the South Florida Water Management District, working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, for their commitment to protecting our water, our Everglades, and our clean water economy.”

The SFWMD completed the 2.3-mile first phase of the wall in September 2022 and then broke ground on the second phase in December 2022. The second phase adds five miles of the underground seepage wall. The total seepage wall is approximately 7.3 miles long, 63 feet deep and 30 inches wide. During heavy rain events, water that typically would flood communities remained inside Everglades National Park to support the park’s historic hydrology.

By supporting restoration flows of water through the Greater Everglades Ecosystem, the new underground wall supports the Combined Operating Plan (COP) and new infrastructure being put in place throughout the Everglades that delivers more water into Everglades National Park and Florida Bay – two key areas that need increased flows of water.

Florida continues demonstrating historic progress on several key priority ecosystem restoration projects including the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir Project, the Caloosahatchee (C-43) Reservoir Project, and the North of Lake Okeechobee Storage Reservoir (LOCAR).