PROGRESS TOWARD RESTORING THE EVERGLADES
The Third Biennial Review - 2010
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the panel responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.
This report was produced under assistance of Cooperative Agreement No. W912EP-04-2-0001 with the Department of the Army. Support for this project was provided by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the South Florida Water Management District. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project.
International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-16006-3
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-16006-5
Cover credit: Cover image courtesy of Patrick Lynch, South Florida Water Management District. Photo showing a submerged aquatic vegetation cell within STA-5, used to provide final treatment of water before it is discharged into Rotenberger Wildlife Management Area.
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COMMITTEE ON INDEPENDENT SCIENTIFIC REVIEW OF EVERGLADES RESTORATION PROGRESS1
FRANK W. DAVIS, Chair,
University of California, Santa Barbara
STEVEN R. BEISSINGER,
University of California, Berkeley
WILLIAM G. BOGGESS,
Oregon State University, Corvallis
CHARLES T. DRISCOLL,
Syracuse University, New York
JOAN G. EHRENFELD,
Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey
WILLIAM L. GRAF,
University of South Carolina, Columbia
WENDY D. GRAHAM,
University of Florida, Gainesville
CHRIS T. HENDRICKSON,
Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
WILLIAM P. HORN,
Birch, Horton, Bittner, and Cherot, Washington, D.C.
DAVID H. MOREAU,
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
K. RAMESH REDDY,
University of Florida, Gainesville
R. WAYNE SKAGGS,
North Carolina State University, Raleigh
ROBERT R. TWILLEY,
Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge
STEPHANIE E. JOHNSON, Study Director,
Water Science and Technology Board
DAVID J. POLICANSKY, Scholar,
Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology
MICHAEL J. STOEVER, Research Associate,
Water Science and Technology Board
Many individuals assisted the committee and the National Research Council staff in their task to create this report. We would like to express our appreciation to the following people who have provided presentations to the committee and served as guides during the field trips:
Ken Ammon, South Florida Water Management District
Stu Appelbaum, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Nick Aumen, National Park Service
Carmela Bedregal, South Florida Water Management District
Laura Brandt, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Eric Bush, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Eric Cline, South Florida Water Management District
Susan Connor, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Deborah Drum, South Florida Water Management District
Dennis Duke, U.S. Department of the Interior
Gretchen Ehlinger, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Robert Fennema, National Park Service
Carl Fitz, University of Florida
Lawrence Gerry, South Florida Water Management District
Patti Gorman, South Florida Water Management District
Andy Gottlieb, South Florida Water Management District
Susan Gray, South Florida Water Management District
Scot Hagerthy, South Florida Water Management District
Matt Harwell, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Lorraine Heisler, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Todd Hopkins, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Delia Ivanoff, South Florida Water Management District
Robert Johnson, National Park Service
Ron Jones, Portland State University
Ephraim King, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Greg Knecht, Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Steve Kopecky, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Timothy Lang, University of Florida
Dexter Lehtinen, Miccosukee Tribe of Indians
Andy LoSchiavo, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Joette Lorion, Miccosukee Tribe of Indians
Tom MacVicar, MacVicar, Federico, and Lamb
Michael Magley, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Chris McVoy, South Florida Water Management District
June Mirecki, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Barron Moody, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Temperince Morgan, South Florida Water Management District
Cal Neidrauer, South Florida Water Management District
Jayantha Obeysekera, South Florida Water Management District
John Ogden, Audubon
Leonard Pearlstine, National Park Service
Sylvia Pelizza, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Susie Perez-Quinn, Office of Sen. Bill Nelson
Mark Perry, Everglades Coalition
Tracey Piccone, South Florida Water Management District
Garth Redfield, South Florida Water Management District
Pam Repp, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Terry Rice, Miccosukee Tribe of Indians
LeRoy Rodgers, South Florida Water Management District
David Rudnick, South Florida Water Management District
Terrence “Rock” Salt, U.S. Department of the Interior (formerly)
Lynn Scarlett, U.S. Department of the Interior (formerly)
Dan Scheidt, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Len Shabman, Resources for the Future
Fred Sklar, South Florida Water Management District
Paul Souza, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Susan Sylvester, South Florida Water Management District
Kimberly Taplin, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Tom Teets, South Florida Water Management District
Tim Towles, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Steve Traxler, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Tiffany Trent, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Tom Van Lent, Everglades Foundation
Bob Verrastro, South Florida Water Management District
Mike Waldon, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Bill Walker, Independent Consultant
Dewey Worth, South Florida Water Management District
John Zediak, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
The Greater Everglades Ecosystem encompasses some of America’s most diverse and distinctive wetland landscapes. These include the sloughs and lakes of the upper Kissimmee River watershed, the meandering Kissimmee River and its broad floodplain, vast Lake Okeechobee, the sawgrass plain, ridge and slough wetlands and marl prairies south of the lake, and ultimately the bays and estuaries of the Florida peninsula. Distinctive in their own right, these landscapes are hydrologically and ecologically connected across more than 220 miles from north to south and across 18,000 square miles of southern Florida.
Everglades landscapes are also connected by human cultures and activities. For 200 years they have been the homelands of the Seminole and Miccosukee Tribes. Now more than 7 million people reside in South Florida, and at least five times that many visit South Florida each year. Agriculture and urban development have reduced the Everglades to less than half of its historical extent. The remnant ecosystem is intensely managed through the Central and South Florida project’s extensive network of canals, levees, and pumping stations to serve multiple competing demands for developable land, water supply, flood control, recreation, and environmental conservation.
Continuing environmental degradation and endangerment of wildlife species has led to a long series of efforts to protect and restore the remaining Everglades. In 1999, the state of Florida and the federal government agreed to a multi-decadal, multi-billion dollar Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) to protect and restore the remaining Everglades while meeting growing demands for water supply and flood control. Like the Kissimmee River Restoration in the northern part of the system, the CERP is being managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD).
In authorizing the CERP, the U.S. Congress mandated periodic independent reviews of progress toward restoring the natural system in the Everglades. The National Research Council’s (NRC’s) Committee on Independent Scientific
Review of Everglades Restoration Progress, or CISRERP, was formed for this purpose in 2004. This report, which is the third in a series of biennial evaluations that are expected to continue for the duration of the CERP, reflects the concerted efforts of 13 committee members and 3 NRC staff representing a wide range of scientific and engineering expertise. Our committee met six times over a period of 18 months including four times in Florida and once in Washington, D.C. We reviewed a large volume of written material and heard oral presentations from state and federal agency personnel, academic researchers, interest groups, and members of the public. The report presents our consensus view of restoration accomplishments and emerging challenges, primarily during the past 2 years but also over the 10 years since the project was authorized.
It has been a particularly eventful period for Everglades restoration; ground has been broken on several important projects, and several others are set to begin. There have been important advances in scientific understanding. At the same time, challenges in achieving water quality standards and water storage and re-distribution have become more apparent. The number of activities and volume of information associated with Everglades restoration have grown truly daunting. I appreciate how much time, attention, and thought every member of this committee has invested in absorbing and digesting so much material. I especially appreciate their careful, rigorous analyses, their expert judgment, and their constructive comments and reviews.
Our committee is indebted to many individuals for their contributions of information and resources. Specifically, we appreciate the efforts of our committee’s technical liaisons—David Tipple (USACE), Glenn Landers (USACE), Larry Gerry (SFWMD), Robert Johnson (National Park Service), and Todd Hopkins (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)—who assisted the committee with numerous information requests and helped the committee utilize the vast resources of agency expertise when needed. Many others educated our committee on the complexities of Everglades restoration through their presentations, field trips, and public comments (see Acknowledgments).
The committee has been fortunate to have the support and collaboration of an excellent NRC staff: Stephanie Johnson and David Policansky have been extraordinary sources of information and advice and have contributed significantly to this report. Michael Stoever has provided superb support during and between meetings and has also been instrumental in producing the report. I speak for the entire committee in expressing our profound respect and gratitude.
This report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their breadth of perspectives and technical expertise in accordance with the procedures approved by the National Academies’ Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review was to provide candid and critical comments to assist the institution in ensuring that its published report is scientifically
credible and that it meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The reviewer comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the deliberative process. We thank the following reviewers for their helpful suggestions, all of which were considered and many of which were wholly or partly incorporated in the final report: Richard M. Adams, Oregon State University; Linda K. Blum, University of Virginia; Aaron Higer, U.S. Geological Survey; John Ogden, Audubon of Florida; Stephen Polasky, University of Minnesota; Curt Richardson, Duke University; Donald I. Siegel, Syracuse University; John C. Volin, University of Connecticut.
Although these reviewers provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions and recommendations nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Gordon Orians, University of Washington, and Frank Stillinger, Princeton University. Appointed by the NRC, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments received full consideration. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the NRC.
Frank W. Davis, Chair
Committee on Independent Scientific Review of Everglades Restoration Progress (CISRERP)