CERP: Principal Features
Once implemented, the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan will return much of the remaining Everglades to a free-flowing system. The Plan includes the seven principal features listed below.
Surface Water Storage Reservoirs
A number of water storage facilities are planned north of Lake Okeechobee, in the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie basins, in the Everglades Agricultural Area, and in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. These areas will encompass approximately 181,300 acres and will have the capacity to store 1.5 million acre-feet of water. Two rock mining areas in Miami-Dade County will be converted to in-ground storage areas.
Aquifer Storage and Recovery
More than 300 wells will be built to store water 1,000 feet underground in the upper Floridan aquifer. The wells will be located around Lake Okeechobee, in Palm Beach County, and in the Caloosahatchee Basin. As much as 1.6 billion gallons a day may be pumped down the wells into underground storage zones. Since water does not evaporate when stored underground and less land is required for storage, aquifer storage and recovery has some advantages over surface storage.
Stormwater Treatment Areas
Approximately 35,600 acres of man-made wetlands will be built to treat urban and agricultural runoff water before it is discharged to the natural areas throughout the system. Stormwater Treatment Areas (STAs) are to be located in basins draining to Lake Okeechobee, the Caloosahatchee River Basin, the St. Lucie Estuary Basin, the Everglades, and the lower east coast. These are in addition to the Stormwater Treatment Areas constructed by the South Florida Water Management District.
Two advanced wastewater treatment plants are planned in Miami-Dade County. The plants are capable of making more than 220 million gallons a day of the county's treated wastewater clean enough to discharge into wetlands along Biscayne Bay and for recharging the Biscayne aquifer.
Millions of gallons of groundwater are lost each year as it seeps away from the Everglades towards the east coast. Seepage generally occurs either as underground flow or through levees. The plan includes features to reduce unwanted water loss and redirect this flow westward to the Water Conservation Areas, Everglades National Park, and northeast Shark River Slough. The three features to reduce seepage are:
- adding impervious barriers to the levees to block loss of water;
- installing pumps near levees to redirect water back into the Everglades; and
- holding water levels higher in undeveloped areas between the Everglades and Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
Removing Barriers to Sheetflow
More than 240 miles of project canals and internal levees within the Everglades will be removed to reestablish the natural sheetflow of water through the Everglades.
Changes in water delivery schedules will be made in some areas to alleviate extreme fluctuations. Lake Okeechobee water levels will be modified to improve the health of the lake. In other areas, the rainfall driven operational plan will enhance the timing water flows.
- View a map of the CERP components