By: USA TODAY Network-Florida
Turning the Toxic Tide is a series of editorials published collectively by the six editorial boards of USA TODAY Network-Florida, with the goal of providing an environmental road map for the state's new governor, legislators and congressional delegation. This is the fourth piece in the series.
Florida's water system is delicate. It’s our most treasured natural resource. It’s under siege and must be protected — at all costs.
That’s why it's imperative to complete the water storage, treatment and flow-way projects that have been a part of four key efforts: the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan; the Central Everglades Planning Project, the Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program and Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order.
And they all must be completed in the next two to 10 years.
To date, none of the approximately 50 projects (with 68 components) listed as a part of CERP, which was authorized in 2000, have been finished. The reason: failure on the part of the state and federal governments to work together to share the costs and develop a manageable timeline to get the projects completed.
Currently, the feds are about $1 billion behind in funding. When it was originally authorized, CERP was to be finished in about 30 years at a cost of $8.2 billion. Now, because of inaction, the cost has climbed to $13.8 billion, and the timeline has jumped 20 more years.
Lack of significant CERP movement has been devastating for a state that's crippled, both environmentally and economically, when its waterways are failing. The Florida legislative session begins Tuesday in Tallahassee, and improving water quality remains at the top of the priority list…