The Army Corps of Engineers is defending itself against charges its failure to adopt an Everglades planning project this week could further hamper efforts to improve local water quality.
During a conference call Wednesday, the Corps office in Jacksonville said this project is a success because they've reached this point in half the time it normally takes to craft and review a project of this scope.
There's a desire of many to move Lake Okeechobee waters to improve the health of the Everglades and the Indian River Lagoon.
For some time the federal government, working with partners like the state and the South Florida Water Management District, is creating CERP, or the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. Within CERP are some projects of local interest under the acronym of CEPP, the Central Everglades Planning Project. One of the most important is at Lake Okeechobee where the plan is to take some of the lake water and move it south onto land that the state and federal government already own.
That would eliminate about 15-percent of the discharges that currently are sent into the Caloosahatchee River and the Indian River Lagoon.
"We understand the frustration that many stakeholders feel with our process," said Kim Taplin who is the Central Everglades Branch Chief with the Army Corps.
The Army Corps said Wednesday there are some minor language issues to be resolved with the South Florida Water Management District when it comes to defining water quality but that approval of the project has not stopped.
Congressman Patrick Murphy said though it doesn't appear likely that CEPP will make it into the latest federal water bill, there are some good things in there.
"We didn't get 100% of what we wanted. We got our cake, didn't get the icing. We got 400 million dollars in credits. We got 4 key projects to clean the water and send it south," said the Stuart Democrat.
The South Florida Water Management District sent out a statement saying the delay is due to the Army Corps. Governor Scott also calling today for the Corps Civil Works review board to approve CEPP.
The Everglades Foundation said that the Army Corps Review Board, which failed to approve CEPP Tuesday, said the board appears to have a callous disregard for the economic and environmental suffering of Floridians.
The Army Corps out of Jacksonville, which is responsible for all Florida projects, said they will bring the CEPP plan back to Washington in June.