THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Vice President
VICE PRESIDENT GORE UNVEILS PLAN TO RESTORE FRESHWATER SUPPLIES FOR FLORIDA'S EVERGLADES Federal-State Blueprint Also Would Ensure Water for Farmers, Growing Cities
Palm Beach, Florida -- Vice President Gore today unveiled a comprehensive blueprint for rebuilding freshwater supplies in South Florida, a key element in the Administration's long-term effort to restore the Everglades and to ensure adequate water supplies for agriculture and for the region's growing population.
The draft plan, developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in partnership with the South Florida Water Management District, recommends $7.8 billion in water system improvements over 20 years. Many of the proposed changes would capture fresh water that now flows to the ocean and make it easier to deliver those supplies when and where they are needed.
"With this new action plan, we take the next major step to restore Florida's precious Everglades, one of America's greatest natural treasures -- strengthening our environment and our economy well into the 21st Century," Vice President Gore said. "By working in partnership, across party lines, we will protect and preserve South Florida's water supply for farmers, for families, and for future generations to enjoy."
The Administration's Everglades restoration plan, announced by the Vice President in February 1996, includes strategic land acquisitions, accelerated research and restoration projects, increased federal funding, and strengthened partnerships with state and local government and private interests.
The plan released today advances these efforts by recommending significant improvements to the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control Project, a network of levees and canals covering 18,000 square miles. The system was created in 1948 to provide flood protection and water supplies for South Florida. Half a century later, the freshwater diversions have taken a toll on the Everglades, and population growth has far outstripped the system's capacity. While the project was designed to serve the water needs of 2 million people, the region's population now stands at more than 6 million and is projected to reach 8 million by 2010.
The draft plan, called the "Central and Southern Florida Project Comprehensive Review Study," or "Restudy," identifies measures to help restore historic flows to the Everglades and to avert future water shortages by augmenting supplies for urban and agricultural users. The project's cost would be shared equally by the federal government and the state of Florida.
Following public comment on the draft "Restudy," a final report will be completed in spring 1999 and sent to Congress in July, 1999.
Highlights of the plan include:
Additional information on the plan is available by calling the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers toll free at 800-291-9405 or, by Internet, at www.restudy.org.