The South Florida ecosystem covers about 18,000 square miles and is home to the Everglades, a national resource. Over the past 100 years, efforts to manage the flow of water through the ecosystem have jeopardized its health. In 2000, a strategy to restore the ecosystem was set; restoration was expected to take at least 40 years and cost $15.4 billion. The restoration comprises hundreds of projects, including 60 key projects known as the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), to be undertaken by a partnership of federal, state, local, and tribal governments. Given the size and complexity of the restoration, GAO was asked to report on the (1) status of project implementation and expected benefits, (2) factors that determine project sequencing, (3) amount of funding provided for the effort and extent that costs have increased, and (4) primary mathematical models that guide the restoration.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of the Army||Because the correct sequencing of CERP projects is essential to the overall success of the restoration effort, the Secretary of the Army should direct the Corps of Engineers (Corps) to obtain the key data that are needed to ensure that all required sequencing factors are appropriately considered when deciding which projects to implement. Once this information is available, the Corps should comprehensively reassess its sequencing decisions to ensure that CERP projects have been appropriately sequenced to maximize the achievement of restoration goals.|
|Department of the Interior||Given the importance of modeling and interfaces to managing the restoration effort, the Secretary of the Interior, as chair of the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, should take the lead on helping participating agencies better coordinate their efforts to develop models and their interfaces.|