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White House, Broward Congresswoman and Miccosukee Leaders Tout $1.1 Billion Everglades Funding

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The largest ever federal funding package for Everglades restoration will soon be implemented–and several government officials visited the Everglades by airboat last week, touting its features.

The federal government and Miccosukee Tribe of Florida officials highlighted the details of the $1.1 billion investment on Tiger Tail Island, north of Tamiami Trail and on the Miccosukee Reservation.

White House Infrastructure czar Mitch Landrieu connected the spending to a larger infrastructure investment by the Biden administration.

He was joined by Broward County Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and Miccosukee Tribe Lawmaker Petties Osceola, Jr., as well as a number of local environmental organizations.

The investment’s flagship project, a water treatment reservoir in the central Everglades, is set to be constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers by the end of the decade.

“This generation of Army Corps individuals understand what needs to occur to fix the Everglades,” said Erik Eikenberg, CEO of the Everglades Foundation. “So, our concern is we don’t want the bureaucracy to slow this down; the Army Corps needs to have that urgency to get these projects finished.”

The intention behind the reservoir system is two fold: both to mitigate the coastal effects from discharges of toxic water from Lake Okeechobee, as well as to store, clean and ultimately send that toxic water south.

Rather than through the St. Lucie River and Caloosahatchee watersheds, diverting the treated water will help to restore the natural sheet-flow of fresh water through the ecosystem and into Florida Bay.

“Once that happens, it is the solution to the harmful discharges that are going to the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico,” said Eikenberg.

One of the first steps in the plan–raising a portion of Tamiami Trail to allow natural water flows to continue–began in 2018.

“That was actually authorized by Congress in 1989. By bridging three-and-a-half miles of Tamiami Trail , you’re now flowing water into Everglades National park down into Florida Bay,” said Eikenberg. “That’s the direction where this water needs to go .”

Building off of this year’s investment, President Biden’s 2023 budget request includes an additional $407 million for everglades restoration projects–an increase of $57 million from this year’s request.
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