The region of the Everglades can be found in the southern tip of Florida where the area is generally a subtropical marshland and is the lower half of a great watershed that roots from the river system of the Kissimmee River. About half of the original Everglades are already lost to agriculture while most of the remaining parts are currently watched over through the establishment of a national park, water preservation regions, as well as national wildlife refuge.
Once a lively and free-flowing grassy region that supplied clean water from the region of Lake Okeechobee to the area of Florida Bay, the Florida Everglades has now become a weakening ecosystem on the verge of dying. With a significant number of species of flora and fauna greatly affected by the deteriorating status of the Everglades, the region’s decline is increasing in proportions in the past few years.
In order to counter these unwanted circumstances, the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) was created. Specifically designed in order to bring back the glory of the region and the abundant ecosystem it once had, CERP brings awareness to the general population and educates the people about the looming environmental crisis that beset the Everglades.
Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP)
The essential function of the CERP is to bring back the ecosystem situated in the region of south Florida specifically the Everglades region that attempts to direct every feature and portion of the CERP’s development as well as its suggested implementation. The CERP can be taken as a framework and scheme in the goal to re-establish, protect and maintain the aquatic resources of the larger Everglades natural environment and ecosystem. It has been noted as the world’s biggest attempt to reinstate a dwindling ecosystem and the complex natural courses of the water system as well as the quality of the water. It also aims at increasing the hydro-periods that are left in the Everglades region. The CERP is specifically designed to bring about a south Florida that is not sustainable but also one which has a restored ecosystem, dependable supply of water and a region that is protected from flooding.
Forwarded to the Congress in April 1999 and put into authority in December 2000, the CERP was widely supported by an overwhelming bipartisan backing thus resulting to the direct enforcing of the Plan. An open and two-way partnership that is comprised of a number of members from various backgrounds, inclinations as well as agency tasks defines the development process of the CERP. This characteristic of the Plan reinforced by the interagency as well as interdisciplinary schemes heightens its flexible quality which extends and continues during the implementation of the Plan in order to give way to continued conversations among the participants and refine the improvements to the CERP.
One of these agencies involved in the implementation of the CERP is the USGS or the United States Geological Survey. It has a crucial function, alongside with several DOI agencies, in the application of the CERP specifically the stages of feasibility and overall design as well as the interlinked research endeavors that appraise and support the suggested particulars of the CERP. Moreover, the USGS is carrying out and assessing long-term schemes designed to monitor the environment. These monitoring schemes are required in order to outline the developments toward obtaining the success of the Everglades’ general restoration. In essence, the USGS has an equally significant task in the adaptive appraisal scheme that utilizes the outcomes of both scientific and technical examinations to improve the CERP.
The present CERP envisions the single most and perhaps the final chance to radically refine the ecological welfare of the greater Everglades in the lower regions of Florida. It is suggested that an overwhelming and active involvement of the USGS is crucial to securing the triumph of the execution of the CERP.
Like any other comprehensive plans that are legally implemented, the CERP also has its own guiding principles. These include the beneficial acts directed towards the ecosystem located in south Florida while supplying the aquatic needs of the area. It is also founded on the best scientific resources available as well as an integral independent scientific assessment through the comprehensive system that involved every stakeholder and interest groups in the region. The perceptions of the many agencies—state, local, tribal, and federal—were greatly taken into account since the CERP is founded on the idea of adaptive appraisal which recognizes the fact that changes will be pursued in the coming months or years based on the latest information.
The CERP is founded on sound science as it has been crafted by a team comprised of various individuals coming from numerous agencies whose professions are directly related to the program. Further, the Plan employs the best scientific data available as well as modern engineering paradigms.
Although the CERP has been implemented almost five decades after the Everglades was altered by the levees and the drainage canals that led to growth, current situations in the region suggest that the area has improved and that the continuous implementation of the program will provide great benefits to the remaining ecosystem in the area. The increase in the amount of water supply will eventually bring back the Everglades since the CERP captures most of the 1.7 billion gallons of water drained from the region and keeps it in the surface as well as underground storage spaces. This goes on until the stored supply is considered necessary to provide water needs of the natural system including the city and agricultural water needs.
CERP’s impacts on South Florida
One of the most potent threats to south Florida can be found in the Everglades, specifically the increase in the requirements being put on a restricted amount of fresh clean water which roughly started in 1991—the time when the rate of the increase of the population of the citizens in south Florida reached approximately 800 persons every day. This was also heightened by the effects of the industry of agriculture on the quality and amount of water found in the Everglades. In contemporary times, merely a little section of the water systems in the region of south Florida exists as the Everglades National Park.
The CERP intends to change properly the time of the allocation of water to the ecosystem in order to meet the estimated pre-drainage pattern so as to refine the conditions of the water released into the Everglades. Part of the measures to be taken is the establishment of storm water treatment that is built on the wetlands. Around 240 miles of inner levees as well as canal systems will be eliminated in order to develop the connectivity of the natural regions.
This leads to the revival of the Everglades ecosystem in south Florida which brings back its health and sustained ecosystem. About more than 75 percent of the new water acquired from the CERP will be utilized in order to do well to the natural resources in south Florida. The remaining 25 percent and below will profit the people from the urban and agricultural areas.
The CERP also immediately brings advantages to south Florida, specifically the area of the Everglades, through the development of the distribution, timing, worth and amounts of water course into the Everglades. The modifications in the 240-mile area of canal and levee systems will sustain the restoration of the big nesting areas of wading birds to the Everglades as well as the revival of a number of endangered animals such as the Cape Sable seaside sparrow, wood stork and the snail kite.
Through the CERP, south Florida will be able to obtain a recharge process for well fields as these wells will not be intruded by salt water that is unable to penetrate from the ocean. Potable water will be made more accessible as its amounts and quality will be enhanced for the people of south and central Florida.
Moreover, the population of marine species will be benefited thereby leading to an increase in the availability of seafood and, eventually, the cost of these seafood will not skyrocket in south and central Florida as well as the United States to a certain degree. The CERP’s focus on the water system in the Everglades will indeed bring back the species of animals that would have left if the region has been allowed to waste away.
In the succession of these events in the implementation of the CERP, the economic status of south Florida will be made stronger and the environment will bring more healthy living conditions for the people in the region. As the Everglades is restored, the animals and plants that inhabit the region will be able to survive as their dependency on the environment will reinforce their population. The extra quantities of water will not be lost to the ocean since it will be utilized to provide sustenance to the ecosystem and the necessities of the urban population and the agricultural industry. A more reliable water source is created for the people and the environment of south Florida under the Plan which grants the Everglades more ability to maintain south Florida’s natural reserves, economic status, and the quality of life of the people.
PLAN, E. (2002) FAQs: What you should know about the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. Everglades Plan. Retrieved July 24, 2007, from http://www.evergladesplan.org/facts_info/faqs_cerp.aspx#1
SOCIETY, F. O. (2001) Position Statement: Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. Florida Oceanographic Society. Retrieved July 24, 2007, from http://18.104.22.168/search?q=cache:CO8ZTTizSDUJ:www.floridaoceanographic.org/fos-position.pdf+Comprehensive+Everglades+Restoration+Plan&hl=tl&ct=clnk&cd=5&gl=ph
USGS (2006) Introduction to CERP. U. S. Geological Survey. Retrieved July 24, 2007, from http://fl.water.usgs.gov/CERP/intro/intro.html