Water Restoration of the Everglades Case Study

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¶ … U.S. Sugar Deal purchase for the Everglades water restoration project.

In August 2010, a contract was drafted by the South Florida Water Management for 26,800 acres of United States Sugar Corporation lands in order to assist in rejuvenation of the Everglades Project.

The project was controversial since it was widely suspected that political and monetary agendas were at stake. Nonetheless, the deal will send more clean water into the Everglades and nearby ecosystem regions and for these reasons it has won some approval whilst incurring criticism.

An additional benefit is that it will transplant a region of agricultural land that has become a major source of pollution and use it instead for increasing water treatment capacities in order to decrease phosphorus loads in waters from flowing into the Everglades. It is in this way that the project is regarded as beneficial for the state's Water Conservation Areas, Parks and Wildlife Management Areas, and for the Everglades National Park.

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On the other hand, there is concern that Florida is spending too much on overvalued land which will not only not contribute to the restoration but also distract and impede concentration on other restoration projects as well as being a drain on taxpayers money. Priorities, critics state, are being distorted. Stakeholders in the project include the Deal involving political parties, the Miccosukee Tribe, sugar companies, developers, several Federal agencies, and environmental groups, and there is concern about the methods that they are using in implementation of the Sugar deal and the speed in which the project is being effectuated. A New York Times article on the Deal suggested that agenda may serve as a bailout for U.S. sugar.

On the one hand, therefore, the enormity of the cost of the Deal will inevitably reduce funding for other projects. On the other hand, the Deal is a once-in -- a lifetime opportunity and seems to have potential for improving the water quality and environmental conditions in the Everglade.

Background: History of Water restoration of the Everglades

Image adapted from Everglades Foundation.org http://www.evergladesfoundation.org/

Case Study on Water Restoration of the Everglades Assignment

In 1948 to 2000, the Central and Southern Florida (CS&F) project drained 1.7 billion gallons of water a day from the Everglades ecosystem in order to protect th area from being flooded. The result was an increasingly parched region with steeply rising levels of phosphorus in drinking water supplies and in the ecosystem.

Florida, realizing that the Everglades was dying, passed a steady flow of Acts in order to attempt tot rectify and assuage the situation. These Acts included the Florida Surface Water Improvement and Management Act (1987), the Modified Waters Deliveries Act (Mod Waters) (1989), the Everglades Forever Act (2002), the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan ( (2000), and the 2004 Energy and Water, and Interior Appropriations Acts. Each of these Acts tried different measures and plans in order to save and renovate the region (National Research Council of the National Academies. p26-27.) None utterly succeeded and all were accompanied with problems.

The CERP was the defining Plan that resulted in the Sugar deal of 2008. The CERP planned to provide the Everglades with 1.2 million acre-feet of fresh water that had previously been pumped into the ocean. There had been difficulty in acquiring land for both political and economic reasons and the CERP therefore planned to buy from U.S. Sugar which seemed to be a way of facilitating the process whilst eliminating many of the problems.

Unfortunately, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) has gone through a series of suits which has only served to draw out the process and to double the cost of the plan by donating approximately $12 billion (Caperton Morton, 2010). other complications include the fact that project priorities have changed; Florida has been unable o satisfy the high level water requirements required by the Everglades; environmental aspects such as rapid urban development have raised the pollution level of the environment way above the ideal range for the region; and the phosphorus level is raising at a dramatic rate. All of these factors resulted in dissatisfaction with the CERP and resulted in numerous court suits that eventually resulted in the Sugar Deal in 2010.

August 2010 U.S. Sugar Deal: Politics & Impact

U.S. Sugar is the largest sugar producer in the U.S. And one of the two largest producers in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) (U.S. Sugar Corporation; Burnham, 2010.). In 2008, Charlie Crist announced negotiations to buy out 180,000 of their land for water treatment for the costly sum of $1.75 billion in order to restore the Everglades.

Environmental groups widely applauded the deal, but political watchdogs and taxpayers were cautious. Anxiety was increased when the NY Times reported that more than a dozen Everglades restoration projects (in which $1.3 billion had already been invested) had been stopped with the announcement of the Sugar Deal. The NY times editorial, however, quickly followed this up with support of the Deal and so the controversy continued with both sides taking a stance for and against the Deal and the Deal quickly becoming a national source of debate.

The Deal too was criticized when the NY Times revealed that 49,000 acres of the 252,600 acre land was heavily contaminated therefore worthless (Morgan, 2010.). What you had here, in short, was not only large parcels of land that were unsuitable for the project, but also a drainage on taxpayer's money and the scuttling of other restoration projects in order to proceed with the costly Deal.

The Deal, begun in 2008, went through its second amendment in 2010.

Key Political Stakeholders

The pro-U.S. Sugar deal stakeholders include:

The Florida-based and national environmental groups such as the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Audubon of Florida, Everglades Foundation, and Friends of Florida. They see the sugar industry as contributing to the high rates of phosphorus in the region and, therefore, view the contract as beneficial, in more ways than one, to environmental issues.

Federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Interior's National Parks Service and Fish and Wildlife Service and the Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps benefits from advancement of ecosystem and, therefore, finds this project beneficial.

major state politicians -- these include Governor Charlie Crist and Michael W. Sole, Secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection as well as one time lawyer for U.S. Sugar, Sen. George LeMieux and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink (Eye on Miami Blog. (2010)).

On the other hand, opposition to the U.S. Sugar deal comes from:

The Miccosukee Tribe -- they believe that work on the partly completed EAA Reservoir (A1/Talisman) will be stopped due to lack of resources to continue.

Florida Crystals, the other major sugar grower in the Everglades Agricultural Area - This is owned by the immensely influential Fanjul family who would have liked to have owned U.S. Sugar in order to expand their property.

Politicians -- often recipients of political largesses of the Fanjul family

Tea Party groups in Florida -- they see the deal as a corporate bailout on overvalued land.

The latest news on the issue was that in 2012, Obama sought to allocate $231.75 million for the restoration of the Everglades emphasizing his perspective that this is seen as a priority (the Real Deal (Feb. 14, 2012) Obama seeks $232M for Everglades restoration http://therealdeal.com/miami/blog/2012/02/14/obama-proposes-no-cuts-to-everglades-restoration-budget/)

The Florida Supreme Court, on the other hand, actually blocked the Deal at the request of the Miccosukee Tribe, but Judge Moreno declined to actually halt it. At the moment, this is where the deal stands: at an impasse.

Questions

If you were to take the sides of one of the anti-U.S. Sugar deal stakeholders which would it be and why?

If you were to take the sides of one of the pro-U.S. Sugar deal stakeholders which would it be and why?

The U.S. Sugar deal is accumulating… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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