Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Environmental Report Says Improvement Shown

South Florida Environment Report Online

CLEWISTON, FL. -- The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) this week released the 2010 South Florida Environmental Report detailing a year of restoration, scientific and engineering successes in the Kissimmee Basin, Lake Okeechobee, the Everglades and South Florida coastal areas.

The 2010 South Florida Environmental Report spans two volumes comprising more than 50 individual reports. The illustrated volumes, including a 44-page executive summary, provide extensive research summaries, data analyses, financial updates and a searchable database of environmental projects.

The 2010 report highlights state-federal partnership agreements between the SFWMD Governing Board and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that lay critical groundwork for Everglades restoration for decades to come. These agreements allow federally funded work to move forward on key Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) projects, such as the Picayune Strand restoration, which broke ground earlier this year.

The State and the District also continue to pursue a historic opportunity to broaden Everglades restoration on a scale never before envisioned. In 2009, the Governing Board approved a contract to acquire 73,000 acres of strategic lands to benefit the River of Grass, with options to purchase an additional 107,000 acres in the future.

Additional findings documented in the 2010 report:

Wading bird nesting records lofty year. In 2009, the estimated number of wading bird nests in South Florida was nearly 80,000. As the largest nesting effort recorded in the region since the 1940s, this year's significant increase is more than four times greater than the last breeding season and surpasses the previous record year, 2002, by approximately 11,000 nests.
Improving water quality. The existing 45,000 acres of effective Stormwater Treatment Areas treated about 1.1 million acre-feet of runoff water in Water Year 2009. Since 1994, constructed wetlands and agricultural Best Management Practices have together prevented more than 3,200 metric tons of phosphorus from entering the Everglades Protection Area. Construction on an additional 12,000 acres of valuable treatment marshes is under way.
Lake Okeechobee continues rebound. Lake Okeechobee continues to show signs of recovery from the enduring impacts of the 2004–2005 hurricanes, including lower nearshore turbidity, more submerged aquatic vegetation beds and no severe algal blooms.

The 2010 South Florida Environmental Report is available online at www.sfwmd.gov/sfer

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