State Admits Violations, Seeks More Everglades Cleanup Time

December 3, 2009 – In The News
The Miami Herald

Water managers and environmental regulators in Florida have acknowledged that the state is in violation of its landmark agreement requiring it to halt the flow of polluted water into the Everglades. However, they are urging a federal judge overseeing the progress, U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno, not to declare them in violation, or do anything at all, stating they have a plan underway, and asking to finish it before anymore is added.

The Miccosukee Tribe of Florida is claiming the state has missed deadlines and broken promises to meet water quality standards, threatening the Everglades and their tribal lands, and is asking the state to restart work on a massive reservoir.

Charles De Monaco, an attorney for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, argued that aside from the reservoir and improvements to an associated canal, the state is adhering to its plan to expand pollution treatment marshes and cut farming pollution. He urged the judge to reject the tribe’s motion to build the reservoir, saying the sugar land promises an opportunity for even greater benefits for the Everglades and tribal land in the long run.

“The tribe would have you believe we’re doing absolutely nothing,” he said. “We did what we promised.”

De Monaco also argued that under the consent decree, Moreno’s authority was largely limited to monitoring progress — particularly since the state was admitting the violation. The consent decree allows the state and federal agencies to address the problems, De Monaco said, without any need for the judge to step in.