Construction of the Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir, a key component of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, has taken a big step forward.
The Army Corps of Engineers announced Sept. 28 it had awarded a second large contract to construct its portion of the project in western Palm Beach County.
The federal agency will pay between $308 million and $492 million to Forgen-Odin JV of Rocklin, California, to build the foundation for the reservoir's walls.
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The contract includes the following features:
Grubbing (shallow digging)
Installation of a seepage cutoff wall
Construction of the walls — a 17.3-mile-long embankment dam surrounding the 10,500-acre, 78.2 billion gallon reservoir — will be awarded in a separate contract.
The width of the foundation for the embankment dam will be 260 feet in the north, east and west; and 235 feet in the south.
EAA reservoir progress
The EAA reservoir has been at the center of controversy over the past year:
A lawsuit over one of the many contracts was just resolved this summer.
There is a pending lawsuit by sugar growing companies that claim they are being shorted water meant for them.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has called the reservoir the "crown jewel" of Everglades restoration projects, has complained that more federal funds should be dedicated to the project.
Despite the issues, the Corps has said the construction timetable for the reservoir remains on track.
“This important component will reconnect Lake Okeechobee to the central Everglades and send additional water south to Everglades National Park and Florida Bay,” said Col. James Booth, the Jacksonville district commander.
Once completed in 2029, the reservoir and three adjacent stormwater treatment areas being built on 6,500 acres by the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) will encompass 16 square miles — larger than Stuart and Fort Myers combined.
The reservoir will have the capacity to store about half a foot of water from the 730-square-mile Lake Okeechobee, according to SFWMD Executive Director Drew Bartlett. About 46% of the reservoir water will come from the lake, he said.
The total estimated cost of the entire project will be $3.9 billion.
EAA reservoir timeline
2022: Complete design for reservoir and pump station
2023: Begin reservoir construction
2023: Award remaining reservoir contracts
2023: Complete marshes
End of 2025: Marshes will be operational
2029: Complete reservoir
Ed Killer is TCPalm's outdoors writer. Sign up for his and other weekly newsletters at profile.tcpalm.com/newsletters/manage. Friend Ed on Facebook at Ed Killer, follow him on Twitter @tcpalmekiller or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Treasure Coast Newspapers: Army Corps awards EAA reservoir contract to California company