Rubio Doing Right Thing for Farmers and the Everglades - South Dade News Leader: Community News | South Dade News Leader | Miami Dade County

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Rubio Doing Right Thing for Farmers and the Everglades

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Posted: Friday, March 30, 2018 12:00 am

   U.S. Senator Marco Rubio’s office sent the News Leader a letter the Senator sent to the Army Corps of Engineers asking for their support in alleviating the persistent flooding effecting the farm fields near Everglades National Park (ENP).

   This long-standing problem has a devastating effect on agriculture production in that region. The News Leader asked Sam Accursio, owner of Accursio Farms that has many acres in the affected area and who is also the area director to the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), to offer his opinion on Rubio’s effort.

   “Marco hits a home run with his letter.  With the efforts to restore the Everglades we must not forget about the important resources that allow us to grow food here. We have the climate, water supply and drainage.

   Seepage management has been talked about since late 70's early 80’s.

Growers in South Dade put together a study and proposal to curtain wall the east side of Everglades National Park and the west side of agriculture land to protect higher water in the park at a cost of $100 million. Seems reasonable now when you consider the property taken out of ag production and off tax rolls forever, the price tag of current projects and future projects to supply water to ENP and provide millions of people with flood control.

  The biggest difference between flood protection today and the 70's is canal stages are kept much higher (now) and reaction time to get relief takes much longer because of the constraint the SFWMD has to operate under. The drainage system is the same canal system and it works well.” Accursio told the News Leader.

Rubio’s letter:

The Honorable R. D. James

Assistant Secretary of the Army – Civil Works

Department of the Army

108 Army Pentagon

Washington, D.C. 20310-0108

 

Dear Assistant Secretary James:

  I write to draw your attention to the urgent need to study, design, and construct a comprehensive seepage management solution along the boundary of the eastern Everglades in Miami-Dade County, independent from ongoing Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan program efforts. As your office continues to work with all three levels of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to identify, evaluate, and take action on flood and storm damage reduction projects in 2017 hurricane-impacted states eligible for supplemental disaster funding, I urge you to include this important flood protection measure.

  Above-normal summer rainfall and Hurricane Irma combined to expose flood risks throughout this area last year. The Corps was even forced to excavate a section of the L-359 levee bordering the 8.5 square mile area to drain rising flood waters into the C-111 North detention area in Hurricane Irma's immediate aftermath. This incident has increased concerns held by the South Florida Water Management District that existing flood mitigation features may not be adequate. Additionally, enhancing flood protection for agricultural areas adjacent to Everglades National Park in southwestern Miami-Dade County remains an unaddressed concern from the perspective of many of the region's growers.

  In my role on the Senate Appropriations Committee, I worked diligently to write and pass a disaster supplemental appropriations package that would provide all necessary funding to secure the repair of federal flood control and Everglades infrastructure in Florida that had been damaged by Hurricane Irma. Signed into law on February 9, 2018 as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act, this legislation provides sufficient funding to also address key flood risk management priorities for Floridians across the state, including:

· expedited rehabilitation of the Herbert Hoover Dike at full federal cost; beach re-nourishment for degraded shore protection and beach erosion control projects;

· the capability to conduct the South Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study that I championed in the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act of 2016; and

· emergency authority to develop new, innovative projects that secure long term flood mitigation and protection benefits.

  I urge you to utilize this emergency authority as granted in division B, title IV of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 to work with the South Florida Water Management District to study, design, and construct a new flood and storm damage reduction project that addresses seepage and flood risks along the boundary of the eastern Everglades in Miami-Dade County. Comprehensive seepage management is desperately needed to protect private property and to mitigate flooding concerns for South Dade farmers. Additionally, improved seepage management would also benefit the broader Corps mission in South Florida by helping sustain the broad public support for implementing the Modified Water Deliveries to Everglades National Park project and realizing the full potential of the Central Everglades Planning Project in restoring the hydrological connections between the northern Everglades and Florida Bay. 

The News Leader welcomes any feedback or comments on this issue. Send them to: letters@newsleadermail.com.

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