The Everglades — Your Tax Money at Work

          Back in 1998 the Army Corps of Engineers proposed its comprehensive plan for replumbing the Everglades, an $8 billion, 20-year project that proponents called the most ambitious restoration of an ecosystem ever attempted. So said the N.Y. Times News Service in an article by John H. Cushman, Jr., $9 Billion Plan to Save Everglades Unveiled, Oct. 14, 1998. “Under the plan, the water [that is now channeled out of the Everglades and flows out to sea] would be stored in massive lagoons and in underground aquifers, some to be released in the kind of sheetlike flow that used to seep across the gently inclined landscape, regulated only by the seasons, until settlement and development interfered.” * * * “Large water reservoirs will be built north of Lake Okeechobee, in the Caloosahatchie and St. Lucie basins, in the Everglades Agricultural Area and along western Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.” 

          Naturally, the project was announced by Vice President Al Gore on his visit to Florida. “This is an ambitious and aggressive plan, but this much we know: The cost of inaction cannot be afforded.”  

         Fast forward to today: “[A]fter South Florida taxpayers invested almost $280 million in the unfinished project, water managers say the reservoir might be in the wrong place.” Andy Reid, Halted Reservoir Construction Leaves South Florida Taxpayers with $280 Million Tab, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Sep. 17, 2009. 

         Oops! 

          “The 16,700 acre reservoir, planned on old sugar cane fields . . . could have held 62 billion gallons of stormwater. Embankments rising 30-feet high were envisioned to hold a massive pool of water up to 12.5 feet deep. [¶] The work completed so far included a 13.5-mile-long canal to capture water that seeps through the earthen structure. Work crews also scraped away the mucky soil in a 100-foot-wide, 22-mile-long swath of land that was to become the base of the reservoir embankments.”

           Oh, and did we mention that inasmuch as this reservoir project has been stopped, it will cost at least $12 million to cancel the construction contract? So says the South Florida Water Management District. 

          Your tax money at work.

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