EPA is calling for Florida to move faster in meeting nutrient standards for stormwater, part of the ongoing restoration efforts in the state’s Everglades. In doing so, the agency has endorsed a proposed deal between the state and US Sugar Corp., in which the state would purchase farmland from US Sugar that could be used to create stormwater treatment areas.
In April, federal judge Alan Gold said the state and federal governments were moving with “glacial slowness” in meeting water pollution standards. EPA believes more than 40,000 additional acres of stormwater treatment area is needed to help reduce phosphorus that otherwise would reach the Everglades.
You can read summaries of previous plans to acquire land from US Sugar, first proposed in 2008, here and here. Under the current proposal, the state would acquire 26,800 acres for $197 million. Although many environmental groups and the Everglades Foundation support the land acquisition, opponents have gone to court to block it, claiming it is too costly and would delay other environmental projects. Opponents include the Miccosukee Tribe of Florida and a competitor of US Sugar Corp.