Florida Everglades deserves restoration

The Army Corps of Engineers constructed a series of canals and levees throughout the Florida Everglades in 1948 to protect land that the 300-mile-long waterway system threatened with severe flooding. The dams diverted 1.7 billion gallons of fresh water into the ocean every day, seriously disrupting the Everglades’ ecosystem and endangering the existence of at least a half-dozen animals and plants that live in the 12 million acres of saw grass and swamp. An unusual coalition of groups interested in the resurrection of the damaged South Florida region, however, have finally compelled the Senate — after years of arduous negotiations — to correct their original error and devote billions of dollars toward restoring the water’s natural flow.
Despite nearly-unanimous bipartisan support in the Senate (the bill passed 85 to 1), supporters are expecting trouble getting the Everglades restoration plan passed in the House as this session’s adjournment quickly approaches. The $7.8 billion plan also has support from the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates, Florida’s Republican governor and the White House. Additionally, environmental groups, landowners, American Indian tribes, farmers and industrial companies developed a rare consensus of opinion in supporting the 68 projects that the Corps of Engineers will develop.
Proponents hope to push the plan through the House within the next few weeks. Although Florida Republican representatives are trying to schedule a vote, no date has yet been set. While presidential candidates and representatives up for reelection in Florida have much to lose if they fail to adequately support the plan, other members of Congress have little to gain by expediting a vote. But for citizens of South Florida, one of their state’s most precious and beautiful regions might be lost if Congress remains inactive. Environmentalists estimate that half of the Everglades ecosystem has already disappeared.