Florida Everglades Environmental Regulation: Historic Deal Reached This Week As EPA Approves $880 Million Agreement To Fight Damaging Water Runoff Into River of Grass
The fighting over how to regulate the Florida Everglades has been going on for years. And years. This week, however, lots of that controversy will stop because an agreement has been reached and okayed by the Environmental Protection Agency (subject to the approval of two federal judges to sign off on the deal).
What's the agreement? It's a plan to spend $880 million to reduce the pollution going into Florida's famous Everglades area. Pollution from farming, as well as from urban (suburban) land use has been entering the wetlands area of the Everglades and the area most locals know as the River of Grass.
Image show here: NASA's satellite view of the Florida Everglades ecoregion known as the River of Grass. (FYI, author Marjory Stoneman Douglas coined the phrase "River of Grass" to describe this area of Florida wetlands that most know as the Everglades back in 1947, when she wrote a book that has been compared to works like Silent Spring and Uncle Tom's Cabin for its impact upon the environmental advocacy designed to protect this area.)
Assuming that the two federal judges approve this agreement, then Florida will see many new projects developed and expanded in an effort to clean up storm water run-off before it flows into the Everglades region.
Specifically, according to the EPA's take on things, several projects will be undertaken by the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) designed to reduce phosphorus discharges into the Everglades. The EPA will oversee the projects and will issue and enforce the permit requirements.
As reported by the Miami Herald, the $880 million will be used to expand 45,000 acres to 56,000 acres of networked, man-made marshes that grab the bad stuff from the storm water runoff before it hits the protected wetlands areas. This bad stuff? One of the damaging nutrients that this new deal is targeting is phosphorous.
What's phosphorous? It is a chemical used in various fertilizers and garden products that are popular not only in farmlands but also in suburban green areas (like yards). Rain moves these chemicals from the farm crops and the garden beds and into the water runoff where it has ended up in the wetlands area.
What happens in the wetlands area? Phosphorous encourages some plants to grow, like cattails, at the cost of plants that have been growing in the Everglades ecosystem naturally.
There will also be basins built near this network of marshes, a ribbon of them, designed to help maintain water flow and prevent flooding of the marsh network into the protected zones. They'll take up around 6500 acres.