The nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has forced a costly delay in the construction of a huge reservoir in Florida designed to help restore the Everglades. The group feels that private interests could commandeer some of the stored water for commercial purposes, and wants federal and state authorities to guarantee that all the water stored there will be used for restoration purposes alone.
The 25-square-mile reservoir, the largest of its kind in the world, is designed to store water that would normally be channeled out to sea and divert it to the Everglades throughout the year as needed to support ongoing conservation efforts there.
The purpose of the reservoir, which is estimated to cost some $800 million to build and is scheduled for completion in 2010, is to store water that would normally be channeled out to sea and divert it to the Everglades at various times. This latest hurdle means the completion date could be pushed back indefinitely—and the delay itself could add many millions of dollars to the total cost.
While state officials insist that 80 percent of the water flows from the reservoir will go toward environmental purposes, NRDC and others want such commitments to be legally binding. They fear that agricultural and development interests could take larger and larger amounts of the stored water over time, leaving the Everglades just as parched as they are today after decades of mismanagement.