Florida Senators Want Army Corps of Engineers to Fully Fund Florida Priorities

This week, Florida’s two senators–Republicans Marco Rubio and Rick Scott— sent a letter to R.D. James, the assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works, ahead of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finalizing their fiscal year 2021 work plan, to ensure that, “all proposed and ongoing projects in Florida receive full and fair consideration of their value to local communities, our state, and our nation.”

This includes numerous projects of importance to communities all over the state, and also includes maintaining the unprecedented progress towards the restoration of Florida’s Everglades through projects like the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP). The letter also highlights the clarification by Congress in the recently enacted Water Resources Development Act of 2020 that the Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir is a component of CEPP and does not require a new start designation.  The senators expressed their expectation that construction of the federal portion of the EAA reservoir project would begin as soon as possible.  The project support list also includes a critical ecosystem restoration and flood control project in Puerto Rico, known as the Caño Martin Peña project, which aims to improve water quality, restore the watershed’s ecosystem, and address serious public health and safety issues in afflicted neighborhoods in San Juan.

The full text of the letter is below.

Dear Assistant Secretary James:

As you finalize the planning and selection process for the fiscal year 2021 (FY21) Work Plan following passage of H.R. 133, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, we request that all proposed and ongoing projects in Florida receive full and fair consideration of their value to local communities, our state, and our nation.  Building on our shared progress from FY20, we look forward to working with your office, as well as U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Headquarters, South Atlantic Division, and Jacksonville and Mobile District offices, to ensure sufficient resources to fund feasibility studies, preconstruction engineering and design (PED) work, and construction, as warranted throughout Florida.  We specifically support funding to allow the below projects to achieve and sustain significant momentum towards completion:

      • Broward County, FL Shore Protection Project
      • C&SF Project Flood Control Restudy – Proposed to improve the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of South Florida’s aging water management infrastructure in concert with concurrent efforts to enhance the region’s water management and resilience, including through CERP, LOSOM, and the South Atlantic Coastal Study.
      • Caño Martín Peña, PR – New start required for an urgently needed ecosystem restoration project with flood control benefits.
      • Charlotte County, FL
      • Dade County, FL Beach Erosion Control and Hurricane Protection Project – Incorporate Key Biscayne Shore Damage Mitigation, Key Biscayne, FL as part of this project.
      • Daytona Beach Flood Protection Project
      • Florida Keys Water Quality Improvements
      • Fort Pierce Beach, St. Lucie County, FL
      • Jacksonville Harbor Deepening, FL
      • Jacksonville Harbor, Mile Point, FL – Payments owed to non-federal sponsor.
      • Lee County, FL Beach Erosion Control
      • Lido Key, FL Shore Protection Project
      • Manatee Harbor, FL
      • Miami Harbor Channel, FL – Payments owed to non-federal sponsor.
      • Miami Harbor Improvements, FL
      • Okaloosa County, FL Shore Protection Project
      • Panama City Harbor, FL
      • Pinellas County, FL Shore Protection Project
      • Putnam County Comprehensive Water Supply Infrastructure Modernization Project (Palatka, FL)
      • Shingle Creek and Kissimmee River, Osceola County
      • South Atlantic Coastal Study
      • South Dade Flood Protection Project – Study, design, and construction of a comprehensive seepage management solution along the boundary of the eastern Everglades to maintain current levels of flood protection service for landowners subjected to a rising water table.

South Florida Ecosystem Restoration, FL – To include:

      • Adaptive Assessment and Monitoring
      • Bird Drive Basin Conveyance, Seepage Collection, and Recharge
      • Biscayne Bay and Southeastern Everglades Ecosystem Restoration
      • Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands
      • Broward County Water Preserve Areas
      • C-111 South Dade
      • C-111 Spreader Canal
      • C-43 Caloosahatchee West Basin Storage Reservoir
      • Central Everglades Planning Project
      • Indian River Lagoon-South (C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area, C-23/C-24 Reservoirs)
      • Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration
      • Loxahatchee River Watershed Restoration
      • Picayune Strand
      • Program Level Activities (PLA) Program Management
      • Western Everglades Restoration
      • St. Augustine Back Bay Study
      • St. Johns County, FL Shore Protection Project – Feasibility study for potential North Ponte Vedra Beach segment.
      • St. John’s River and Lake Jesup
      • St. Lucie Inlet – Southern Jetty Improvements.
      • Tampa Harbor Improvements, FL – General Re-evaluation Report to support improved channel navigability and reduce increasing annual O&M needs.

Continuing Authorities Program (CAP) projects are critical to supporting local communities that may not otherwise have the means to complete water resources infrastructure projects on their own, or are not able to compete with larger national projects.  We encourage the Corps to dedicate resources and take action to fulfill the goals of the following proposed and ongoing CAP projects in the state:

      • Alligator Creek, Starke, FL (Sec. 205)
      • Big Fishweir Creek, Jacksonville, FL (Sec. 206)
      • Ft. George Inlet, Jacksonville, FL (Sec. 111)
      • Lake Toho Restoration, Osceola County, FL (Sec. 1135)
      • Lake Worth Lagoon, Palm Beach County, FL (Sec. 1135)
      • Pahokee Restoration, Pahokee, FL (Sec. 1135)
      • Porpoise Point Shoreline Restoration Project, St. Johns County, FL (Sec. 103)
      • St. Francis Barracks Seawall, St. Augustine, FL (Sec. 14)

We also support the allocation of all necessary Operation and Maintenance funding in the FY20 Work Plan—including legally obligated, yet outstanding, payments owed to local project sponsors to cover the federal cost-share for work completed by those project sponsors—for the following projects:

      • Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, FL –Includes the Fernandina to St. Johns River, St. Johns River to Miami, and Miami to Key West segments.
      • Anclote River, FL – Project requires immediate restoration of funding for dredging activities lost via emergency reallocation in the aftermath of 2018 disasters.
      • Apalachicola, Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers, GA, AL & FL
      • Apalachicola Bay, FL
      • Canaveral Harbor, FL
      • Canaveral Harbor NOTU Dredging
      • Central & Southern Florida, FL
      • East Pass Channel, Destin, FL
      • Escambia and Conecuh Rivers, FL & AL
      • Fernandina Harbor – Kings Bay
      • Fort Myers Beach, FL
      • Fort Pierce Harbor, FL
      • Gulf Intracoastal Waterway – Includes the Florida portion of the Northern Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and the Western Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (Caloosahatchee River to Anclote River).
      • Harmful Algal Bloom Demonstration Program – Lake Okeechobee
      • Inspection of Completed Works, FL
      • Jacksonville Harbor, FL
      • Jim Woodruff Lock and Dam, Lake Seminole, FL, AL & GA – Includes need for shoreline management activities and enhanced aquatic plant control.
      • Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual revision
      • Manatee Harbor, FL – Includes need for reimbursements as directed in Senate Report 116-102.
      • Miami Harbor, FL
      • Naples to Big Marco Pass, Collier County, FL
      • Okeechobee Waterway, FL
      • Palm Beach Harbor, FL
      • Panama City Harbor, FL
      • Pensacola Harbor, FL
      • Ponce de Leon Inlet, FL
      • Port Everglades Harbor, FL
      • Port St. Joe Harbor, FL
      • Project Condition Surveys, FL
      • Removal of Aquatic Growth, FL
      • St. Augustine Harbor, FL
      • St. Johns River, FL
      • St. Lucie Inlet Dredging
      • Suwannee River, FL
      • Scheduling Reservoir Operations, FL
      • South Florida Ecosystem Restoration, FL – Includes payments owed to the South Florida Water Management District and the Seminole Tribe of Florida for work performed by local project sponsors.
      • Tampa Harbor, FL – Includes need for advanced maintenance funds to ensure short-term navigability of federal channel for post-Panamax vessels.

We would like to note that with the enactment of the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 via the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, Congress has clarified that the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) reservoir is a component of the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP), and therefore does not require a new start designation.  Further, it is our expectation that funding for the construction of the reservoir will be allocated in the FY21 Work Plan, and that the construction of the reservoir will begin as soon as possible.

Floridians depend on the expertise and diligence of the USACE—often in partnership with non-federal interests—to study, design, construct, maintain, and operate important water resources infrastructure across the Sunshine State.  Thank you for your continued efforts in support of these essential projects and ongoing improvements in coordination at all levels of the USACE with non-federal interests in Florida.

 

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