Calling it “an undue and unreasonable financial burden,” the South Florida Water Management District has objected to a proposal by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to achieve water quality targets for the Everglades that would cost South Florida taxpayers $2 billion.
In a Nov. 4 letter to EPA's Atlanta regional office, water management district Executive Director Carol Ann Wehle argues that the district has spent nearly $1.5 billion during the past decade for water storage and water quality projects beneficial to the “River of Grass,” and continues with additional work and land purchases.
Wehle writes, “Rather than encourage the District to proceed with these existing efforts, build and operate treatment facilities and realize additional water quality improvements on a realistic schedule, EPA opted to mandate construction of a $2 billion suite of projects over the next nine years. Regrettably, these projects and schedules are not achievable within our existing revenue streams and leave no funds available for other critical efforts like the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan and restoration of Lake Okeechobee and the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries.”
The EPA's plan came about as a result of orders from U.S. District Court Judge Alan Gold.