The South Florida Water Management District announced Thursday that its board has approved handing off a design for a water storage reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee to its federal partner.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will now begin reviewing the tentatively selected reservoir plan which, in conjunction with a state restoration strategies plan, provides 350,000 acre-feet of above-ground storage.
The reservoir is intended to limit water discharges that contribute to blue-green algae on Florida's east and west coasts, and to send more freshwater south to help rehydrate the Everglades and Florida Bay.
Some environmental groups have said the reservoir needs to be larger and shallower than what the district has proposed. But representatives from Audubon Florida and the Everglades Foundation -- two of the environmental organizations that have been most vocal on the reservoir -- have said they support the approval granted on Monday by Florida's Department of Environmental Protection.
To get federal funding for the reservoir this budget cycle, water managers in Florida need to submit the plan to Congress by October.
The district says the selected plan, known as Alternative C240A, will treat water to meet state water quality standards in a new 6,500-acre stormwater treatment area, along with existing stormwater treatment areas and flow equalization basins.
If approved, the new reservoir is expected to hold 240,000 acre-feet of water on a 10,100-acre site comprised of the District-owned A-2 parcel and lands to the west.