With refreshing bi-partisan support, the U.S. House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed H.R. 5303, the Water Resources Development Act of 2016.  The legislation includes important funding for the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP), a series of important initiatives which will help bring relief to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuary systems and will facilitate movement of more clean water into Everglades National Park.  CEPP will also help improve Florida's water quality and provide additional flood protection.  The U.S. Senate had previously passed their version of the WRDA bill, so now the House and Senate will need to conference to work out differences between each rendition of the legislation.  The good news for Florida and for the estuaries is CEPP funding is already included in both bills.
 
CCA Florida has long supported CEPP funding, as well as other Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) projects.  Computer models estimate CEPP projects will deliver roughly 60% of the water all CERP projects ultimately strive to push southward from Lake Okeechobee.  Although CEPP will not provide all the relief the estuaries need, they still will play an important role in the broader set of strategic solutions for water management in South Florida.  Moreover, from a pragmatic standpoint, CEPP has long had the best chance for funding from both the state and federal governments.
 
"This is definitively a positive step for our estuaries,"said Paul Giordano, Chairman of CCA Florida.  "I would like to personally thank CCA members who took the time to write their elected representatives urging them to support CEPP funding."  Giordano also thanked U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson, as well as the entire Florida House delegation, for their support of CEPP.
 
As CCA has previously reported, CEPP projects include the construction of over 30,000 acres of land for storage, treatment, and conveyance of water south of Lake Okeechobee on land already in state hands.  CEPP also includes the construction of 2.6 miles of additional bridging of Tamiami Trail which will facilitate water flows from Water Conservation Area (WCA) 3B into the northern reaches of Everglades National Park (ENP).  In addition, CEPP plans call for the construction of seepage barriers along the eastern corridor of the WCA's and ENP which will help keep water in the Park and also provide additional flood control mechanisms in South Miami-Dade County.
 
By most indications, the House and Senate will conference on WRDA legislation during the lame duck session of Congress after the November election.  Chances look good for ultimate passage and a presidential signature.  CCA Florida will continue to monitor WRDA progress and CEPP funding.