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News Release  
SFWMD Celebrates Ribbon Cutting to Support Everglades
Restoration and Mitigate Flooding
 

Key Restoration Project Supports Florida’s Enhanced Efforts
to Restore the Everglades


CEPP New Water Seepage Barrier Wall Project Ribbon Cutting
Pictured from Left to Right: Maj. Cory Bell, USACE – Jacksonville District;
Deputy Secretary Adam Blalock, DEP; Superintendent Pedro Ramos,
Everglades National Park; Director Drew Bartlett, SFWMD; Sen. Ana Maria
Rodriguez; Board Member “Alligator Ron” Bergeron, SFWMD; Mayor Jose
“Pepe” Diaz, City of Sweetwater; Board Member Charlette Roman, SFWMD;
Board Member Cheryl Meads, SFWMD; Curtis Osceola, Miccosukee Tribe;
Eric Eikenberg, Everglades Foundation

Miami-Dade County, Fla. – Today, the South Florida Water Management
District (SFWMD) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers joined local, state,
federal and tribal officials as well as stakeholders to cut the ribbon on the
Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) New Water Seepage Barrier
Wall Project, which extends the successful underground wall that was built
as part of the 8.5 Square Mile Area Seepage Wall Project. 

The project supports ongoing restoration efforts to move water south through
the Everglades and into Florida Bay while mitigating potential flooding impacts
in communities outside of Everglades National Park. It was completed 8 months
ahead of schedule. 

“This seepage wall has been discussed for decades, but under Governor Ron
DeSantis it was designed AND built. It’s proven to be effective at fostering
delivery of water south to Everglades National Park and Florida Bay, while
simultaneously providing improved flood protection for the Las Palmas com-
munity in Miami-Dade County,” said South Florida Water Management
District Governing Board Member “Alligator Ron” Bergeron. “Since 2019,
the SFWMD has celebrated 70 project completions, groundbreakings, and other
major milestones. Our success would not be possible without the leadership of
Governor DeSantis and the record investments made by our Florida Legislature.
We also greatly appreciate our partners and stakeholders who are strongly com-
mitted to doing everything they can to restore and protect the Everglades. Long
live the Everglades!”

“The work undertaken by the South Florida Water Management District over
the years have significantly enhanced the ecological landscape within Miami-
Dade County and set a precedent for regions statewide,” said Senator Ana
Maria Rodriguez. “Moreover, the culmination of this landmark project under-
scores our commitment to safeguarding the enduring the beauty and ecological
integrity of the Everglades, ensuring its paramount importance in state
conservation efforts for generations to come.”

“Thanks to the leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis and the hard work of our
partners, including the South Florida Water Management District, we are able
to continue our forward momentum with critical projects like this, that will
keep water in Everglades National Park while mitigating flooding in the Las
Palmas community,” said Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Secretary Shawn Hamilton. “Moving more water south through the Everglades
to Florida Bay supports overall restoration goals and today’s ribbon cutting marks
another important step forward in restoring America’s Everglades.”

“Everglades restoration is an enormous undertaking that cannot be accomplished
alone. We are fortunate to have such a strong partnership with the South Florida
Water Management District,” said Maj. Cory Bell, USACE Jacksonville District
Deputy Commander for South Florida. “These projects provide critical benefits
to improve the health of the ecosystem, including endangered species habitat,
improve the water supply, improve flood risk management, and improve resilience
to climate change and sea level rise. Another piece of the puzzle is completed in an
enormously complex system.”

“This project is truly a lesson in innovation. For decades, the highly permeable
limestone allowed water to seep out of Everglades National Park, where it was
needed most,” said Superintendent Pedro Ramos of Everglades and Dry
Tortugas National Parks. “Thanks to the collaborative work of our partners,
this seepage wall will allow the park to receive and retain the vital water flows
that are necessary to restore the Everglades.”

“It is a great day for Everglades National Park, Florida Bay, and our community
as we celebrate the completion of the Seepage Wall Project. This underground
wall is an engineering achievement that will not only help keep water inside Ever-
glades National Park and enable freshwater to flow south to Florida Bay, which
desperately needs it, but it will also protect nearby communities from flooding,”
said Eric Eikenberg, CEO, The Everglades Foundation. “We thank Governor
Ron DeSantis for his leadership and the South Florida Water Management District,
working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, for their commitment to protecting
our water, our Everglades, and our clean water economy.” 

The SFWMD completed the 2.3-mile first phase of the wall in September 2022 and then
broke ground on the second phase in December 2022. The second phase adds five miles
of the underground seepage wall. The total seepage wall is approximately 7.3 miles long,
63 feet deep and 30 inches wide. During heavy rain events, water that typically would
flood communities remained inside Everglades National Park to support the park’s historic
hydrology. 

By supporting restoration flows of water through the Greater Everglades Ecosystem,
the new underground wall supports the Combined Operating Plan (COP) and new infra-
structure being put in place throughout the Everglades that delivers more water into Ever-
glades National Park and Florida Bay – two key areas that need increased flows of water. 

Florida continues demonstrating historic progress on several key priority ecosystem
restoration projects including the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir Project,
the Caloosahatchee (C-43) Reservoir Project, and the North of Lake Okeechobee Storage
Reservoir (LOCAR). 

Media Resources
Download video of the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP)
New Water Seepage Barrier Wall Project Ribbon Cutting

Download B-Roll of the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP)
New Water Seepage Barrier Wall Project Ribbon Cutting

Download photos of the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP)
New Water Seepage Barrier Wall Project Ribbon Cutting

Media Contact: 
Randy Smith |  [email protected]   |  Office: 561-682-6197  |  Cell: 561-389-3386

The South Florida Water Management District is a regional governmental agency that
manages the water resources in the southern part of the state. It is the oldest and largest
of the state’s five water management districts. Our mission is to safeguard and restore
South Florida’s water resources and ecosystems, protect our communities from flooding,
and meet the region’s water needs while connecting with the public and stakeholders.
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