Water-Related News

Congress okays bill with Everglades plan to move Lake Okeechobee discharges south

Congress finally approved the Water Resources Development Act early Saturday — after much ado. That means the Central Everglades Planning Project is a go, but don't look for water to start flowing south any time soon. CEPP, which was envisioned as a way to fast-track sending some excess Lake Okeechobee water south instead of to the St. Lucie River and Caloosahatchee River estuaries by building a project on land already in public hands, won't be finished until at least 2030. And its effect on Lake O discharges will be limited. CEPP is designed to store, treat and send south about 65.2 billion gallons of water. More than 720 billion gallons of Lake O water was discharged this year: 220 east to the St. Lucie and 500-plus west to the Caloosahatchee. Construction on the joint project by the South Florida Water Management District and Army Corps of Engineers probably won't begin until "the 2020-2021 time frame," said Howard Gonzales, chief of the corps' ecosystem branch in Florida.