By: Katrina Elsken, Lake Okeechobee News
WEST PALM BEACH – The Everglades Foundation’s claim at the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) reservoir could be designed, engineered and constructed in four years is confusing the public at a time South Florida residents should be united in supporting construction of the reservoir, according to some members of the Water Resources Analysis Coalition who reviewed the EAA reservoir plan at their Dec. 6 meeting in West Palm Beach.
South Florida Water Management officials have said two years is the “best case scenario” for design and engineering work required before construction can begin. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has estimated design and engineering will taken about three years.
The massive reservoir will cover more than 10,000 acres and hold water more than 20 feet deep.
Lt. Col. Jennifer Reynolds of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said that while some environmental groups have complained that the Corps estimation of three years to design and engineer the reservoir and at least four years to build it is too long to wait, from her point of view “the speed that this project is moving is record-breaking.”
Large federally-funded construction projects like this traditionally move very slowly, she explained.
She said Corps products are not done quickly, but they work.
“We don’t design large infrastructure like this on the back of a napkin,” said Lt. Col. Reynolds, “Our projects are built to ensure the public safety of those who live and work in the vicinity of our projects.”
The EAA reservoir project has been approved by Congress and the president, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will not start design work until they receive a federal funding appropriation.
The dike around the EAA reservoir will be about the same height as the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee. But unlike the earthen Hoover Dike, constructed in the 1930s through the 1960s with whatever materials were dredged from what would become the Rim Canal, the EAA dike will be carefully engineered. Engineers will plan the materials to be used, gather geotechnical data prior to construction, and carefully study the hydrology of the area before construction starts…