The long-awaited Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) was introduced by Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) on Thursday, September 19th and was quickly marked up—a process where potential amendments to the bill are discussed by committee members, followed by final approval of the underlying legislation. Members of the Everglades Foundation staff were present in Washington D.C. to watch it all unfold.
We are happy to report that four projects (the Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands Phase I, Broward Water Preserve Areas, C-43 West Basin Reservoir and the C-111 South Dade) were included in the House Infrastructure bill . Unfortunately, one of our main reasons for the visit to our nation’s capital was to ensure that the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) was not left out of this historic bill.
Ultimately, the amendment to include CEPP in this round of the WRRDA bill was not passed, but the Everglades Foundation will continue to work on this issue and join a 16 County Coalition effort to keep the pressure on as the bill approaches the House floor next month for a full and final vote by the entire House of Representatives.
The last WRRDA bill was passed seven years ago.
Board members from across South Florida rallied and joined members of the Everglades Foundation team to meet with members of Congress and key officials at agencies such as the United States Army Corps of Engineers, Department of the Interior and key committee staff.
— EvergladesFoundation (@evergfoundation) September 19, 2013
Together, they covered a whopping 26 meetings in two days to highlight the need for CEPP to relieve the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie River communities from harmful Lake Okeechobee freshwater releases, as well as restoring flows to Everglades National Park. A very supportive amendment was offered by members of Florida’s Congressional Delegation, Congresswomen Corrine Brown of Jacksonville and Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach, but was withdrawn due to lack of initial committee support.
“We thank members of Congress from Florida and other states who are committed to protecting America’s Everglades,” CEO Eric Eikenberg said. “It is crucial that Congress pass a WRRDA bill prior to the adjournment of the 113th Congress. The next phase of Everglades restoration will be authorized and we strongly urge that the Central Everglades Planning Project be completed,” he said.
The crisis along the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries has made one thing clear: water must move south. CEPP allows Lake Okeechobee water to move south, and it needs to be authorized.