PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - It's taken more than two years, but the battle over buying U.S. Sugar farmland for Everglades restoration was finalized Tuesday.
The South Florida Water Management District closed the deal for almost 27,000 acres of land.
Significant hurdles still remain before the district can start using the land to aid in flowing clean water to the Everglades. Decades of farming must be cleaned up.
Initial storm water treatment areas should be complete within two to five years.
Critics, led by the Miccosukee Tribe and U.S. Sugar competitor Florida Crystals, have called it a boondoggle that costs taxpayers too much, takes money from other overdue Everglades projects and unfairly enriches U.S. Sugar at taxpayer expense.
But the South Florida Water Management District, which leads Everglades restoration, maintains that getting the U.S. Sugar land will result in building structures to store and treat stormwater needed to replenish the Everglades and help with ongoing efforts to boost South Florida water supplies.
Andy Reid of the Sun Sentinel contributed to this report
Copyright (c) 2010 The E. W. Scripps Company
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