By: Katrina Elsken, Okeechobee News
OKEECHOBEE — State and federal water managers usually live in a world in which a “fast tracked” project has a three-year time line for the preliminary planning phase, and an indefinite waiting period for funding to be appropriated.
Last year the Florida Legislature passed Senate Bill 10, requiring the South Florida Water Management District to come up with a “ready to build” plan for a massive reservoir in the Everglades Agricultural Area in less than a year, using property already in state ownership, or property available from willing sellers. SB-10 also identified the state funding for the project, although federal funding will require Congressional appropriation.
The EAA reservoir plan continues to move forward, and while some critics still call for an even bigger plan, state senators, SFWMD staff and Audubon officials have expressed optimism that the long-awaited reservoir will be built, will increase the flow of freshwater to the Everglades and will decrease the need to send freshwater east and west to tide…