How much is cleaner water worth? Almost every stormwater program struggles with the question when setting priorities and trying to meet permit requirements, but the question is being framed in a different way in Florida, where a new $1.5 billion Everglades restoration plan was just presented on Monday.
The state’s Department of Environmental Protection has proposed the plan for EPA approval, following charges that it has failed to meet water-quality standards for stormwater that enters the Everglades. Phosphorus especially is a problem; the state and EPA have wrangled over nutrient requirements, with EPA eventually setting numeric limits for nutrients there.
This article in the Sun Sentinel provides a rough breakdown of how the money would be spent. About $880 million would go toward water storage and treatment areas. The total includes some money that has already been spent on land acquisition and previous projects. For example, the state purchased land in 2010 from US Sugar Corp., and this new plan would involve projects on portions of those nearly 27,000 acres.
Some of the money would come from property taxes over the next decade, as well as from other sources. The South Florida Water Management District calls the plan affordable; others, such as the group Friends of the Everglades, believe more of the funding should come from agricultural—particularly “Big Sugar”—and the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida is questioning whether the costs are justified.