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Instead Of A Buyout, Everglades Neighborhood Is Getting An Underground Wall To Slow Flooding

Florida Everglades. Photo: Chauncey Davis on Flickr.

The South Florida Water Management District agreed yesterday to move forward with an underground wall to deal with flooding around the Las Palmas neighborhood. That’s near Everglades National Park in Miami-Dade.

A new underground seepage wall means that Las Palmas won’t stand in the way as Everglades restoration brings more water into the southern marshes.

Without the wall, water would continue to leak into the neighborhood from the park. Because federal rules say restoration can’t make flooding worse in the neighborhood, that means it would have to be held back, or sent someplace else.

“The bottom line is that we are losing as much water as we bring into the park.”

Pedro Ramos is the superintendent of Everglades National Park.

“The American people have spent billions of dollars, literally…And I don’t think I’m exaggerating in saying that we would not be able to show the American people the return on their investment as public servants unless we stop the bleeding,” Ramos said.

District board member Ron Bergeron worries that even with the wall, flooding will still be a problem.

“Putting this wall and stopping the seepage…impacting this area, they’re still going to have a problem in regards to direct rainfall,” Bergeron said.

Tropical storms and heavy rain also mean there could still be at least a few dozen days a year where the walls don’t work and the district has to divert water.

The district had asked property owners about buying their land. But only three dozen were interested. Nearly half the owners didn’t even bother to respond.

The district says it still wants to pursue buyouts, it just doesn’t want wrangling with property owners to slow Everglades restoration.

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