|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||January 26, 2010|
|Contact:||Kahlil Kettering, National Parks Conservation Association, 954-961-1280 x202|
Spreader Canal Project Will Restore Water to Florida Bay & Everglades National Park
The South Florida Water Management District breaks ground on the C-111 Spreader Canal
Miami, FL—The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) today joined the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) at the ground breaking of the C-111 Spreader Canal restoration project in South-Western Miami-Dade County. This major CERP (Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan) project will directly help ease the stress on Florida Bay caused by decades of canal drainage north of the bay.
“After years of planning for this project we are finally taking the necessary steps to rescue Everglades National Park, one of the most treasured ecosystems in the world,” said Kahlil Kettering of the NPCA.
Spearheaded by the SFWMD, the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) must now complete their agency requirements to ensure Congress authorizes and funds this project partnership. Further, the Corps must complete the planning requirements by this summer for Congress to authorize the project in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2010.
The goal of the first phase of the project is to keep fresh water in Everglades National Park where it historically flowed south into Florida Bay, and to provide direction for the construction of Phase II of this project. The second phase of the Spreader Canal project will disperse water over the landscape in more natural sheet flow and provide the most ecological benefits for Florida Bay, the southern Everglades, and Biscayne National Park.
“This ground breaking is an important step, but it is only the first phase of the C-111 Spreader Canal Project and by itself will not ultimately restore the bay,” said Kettering. “This project must be a complete partnership between the state and federal government to bring relief to Everglades National Park, and planning the second phase of this project must begin as soon as possible. Florida Bay cannot afford anymore delay.”
Built in 1968, the C-111 canal spans 20 miles and is one of the largest canals in South Florida. The canal was originally built to transport barrages carrying equipment for space rockets from a proposed factory site in Southern Miami-Dade County. This never materialized and the canal evolved into a flood protection feature that drained fresh water from the adjacent wetlands in Everglades National Park, and spurred agricultural production in nearby lands. The alteration of water flow out of Everglades National Park has left Florida Bay thirsting for fresh water. This has resulted in unusually high concentrations of salt water in Florida Bay, destroying habitat and threatening wildlife, such as birds and game fish, which are important to the economy of South Florida.