Planning for a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee is scheduled to begin in 2021.
The reservoir is crucial to restoring the Everglades, and the project could get started sooner if funding were available.
The reservoir is aimed at restoring a more natural flow of water to the Everglades. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will work with the state on the project.
“We know that storage north, south, east and west of the lake are all critical components that have been part of the concept for Everglades restoration since its inception, and the storage south of the lake is the next major planning effort,” says Lt. Col. Jennifer Reynolds of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Incoming Senate President Joe Negron has proposed putting state conservation funding toward buying land for a reservoir.
Proponents say the reservoir also would help alleviate discharges of excess polluted water from Lake Okeechobee to coastal estuaries, but critics say the state should focus on other projects.
Reynolds also says bipartisan support for Everglades restoration is unlikely to waver under President-elect Donald Trump.
“We anticipate that there will be some changes, and we will move through those,” she says. “We don’t anticipate there to be significant changes in support for the Everglades restoration projects.”
A $17 billion restoration is underway in the Everglades, the largest in the world.
Trump has called climate change a hoax and appears poised to roll back an array of environmental policies but has said he is committed to protecting the Everglades.