Friday, June 15, 2012

Sierra Club Statement on EPA Approval of State Plan to Improve Water Quality in the Everglades

Sierra Club Press Release
Frank Jackalone,,  (727)824-8813, x302
Jonathan Ullman,,  (305) 860-9888

Sierra Club Statement on EPA Approval of State Plan to Improve Water Quality in the Everglades

Sierra Club is pleased that Environmental Protection Agency and the State of Florida have agreed on a plan towards attaining the 10 parts per billion (ppb) phosphorus standard in the lower Everglades, but this plan is only a small step forward with a lot of uncertainty.

We have three major concerns:

First, the State says it will complete work on the plan and meet the water quality goal no sooner than 2029. That's just more delay, putting the entire project at risk as costs escalate during this period. The Everglades will continue to decline as this project gets dragged out, making restoration more difficult.

Second, the plan calls for using a giant, sub-surface reservoir north of the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge to provide cleaner water for the Refuge. This feature depends strongly on technology which has never been used before. We think this is a very risky decision.

Third, the plan agreed to by the State and the EPA does not include enough land for additional stormwater treatment areas (STAs). Flow Equalization Basins could prove helpful in enhancing the effectiveness of the limited acreage currently in STAs, but they are not a substitute for the nutrient reduction capabilities of STAs and do not offset the need for additional treatment acreage.