The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan and Water Management in Florida

2167 Rayburn House Office Building and online via videoconferencing

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0 Thursday, September 24, 2020 @ 11:00 | Contact: Justin Harclerode 202-225-9446

This is a hearing of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment.

Witness List:
Noah Valenstein, Secretary, Florida Department of Environmental Protection | Written Testimony
The Honorable Chauncey P. Goss, II, Chairman, South Florida Water Management District Governing Board | Written Testimony
Elizabeth Jolin, Captain, The Bay and Reef Company of the Florida Keys | Written Testimony
Gary Ritter, Assistant Director of Government and Community Affairs, Florida Farm Bureau Federation | Written Testimony
Shannon Estenoz, Vice President of Policy and Public Affairs, The Everglades Foundation | Written Testimony

Opening remarks, as prepared, of Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-AR):

Thank you, Chairwoman Napolitano, for holding this important hearing, and thank you to our witnesses for being here today to discuss the water management and environmental restoration activities of the Army Corps of Engineers in Florida.  

Florida, like many other states across the country, faces unique challenges with regards to water management, environmental restoration efforts, and water quality – including harmful algal blooms.  To address these challenges, this Committee authorized the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (or CERP) 20 years ago as part of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2000. 

CERP is the largest ecosystem restoration project in the Nation, covering 16 counties over an 18,000 square mile area in Central and South Florida.  The CERP framework seeks to restore the Everglades while balancing water supply and flood mitigation for communities and stakeholders throughout the state.  Individual CERP projects, working as part of a system, govern the timing, distribution, quantity, and quality of the water around central and south Florida, including from Lake Okeechobee.  This is an immense and complex undertaking.  Twenty years later, nine projects have been Congressionally authorized with more on the way.

After 20 years, it seems appropriate that we look back and examine the progress made thus far, hear from key stakeholders, and evaluate future challenges and solutions. 

Additionally, H.R. 7575, or WRDA 2020, was passed out of Committee in July, and passed the House of Representatives on suspension later that month.  There are several provisions included in this bill that authorize new projects, amend existing projects, and clarify Congressional intent for projects related to water management and restoration of the Florida Everglades.  It is my hope we finalize this bill and send it to the President’s desk this year.

Finally, I want to acknowledge the hard work of Representative Brian Mast, whose district has been severely impacted by harmful algal blooms.  I also want to acknowledge Representatives Webster and Spano for their work on behalf of their constituents in addressing water management issues in Florida.

I look forward to hearing constructive ideas from our witnesses today on addressing Florida’s water resources infrastructure needs.

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