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Everglades Protection Plan Wins 2013 Growing Blue Award

November 16, 2013 Accolades No Comments Email Email

For its widely-lauded plan to better distribute water throughout Southern Fla., including the Everglades, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) has won the 2013 Growing Blue Award, presented during an awards ceremony at the American Water Summit in Washington, D.C.

The Growing Blue Award recognizes organizations and individuals who are advancing an understanding of how water is as essential to economic and social growth as it is to sustaining the environment. SFWMD won the award through a competitive, live vote of its peers at the American Water Summit, an annual meeting that brings together leaders in the water industry from the business, government and nonprofit sectors.

“The project will capture water that is currently discharged to the ocean in a damaging way,” said Walter Wilcox, Lead-Engineer, Hydrologic & Environmental Systems Modeling, SFWMD. “And it will provide an additional volume of water to the American Everglades, which are a natural resource that everyone can enjoy.”

During the ceremony, SFWMD presented an overview of its “ALT4R” plan, developed in partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers as part of the Central Everglades Planning Program. The plan supports the delivery of 200,000 acre-feet per year of additional fresh water to the Everglades, reducing the severity of harmful, high-volume discharges and improving salinity in surrounding estuaries.

In the development of its plan, the District gathered a team of natural resource modelers to develop a complex set of numerical simulation programs to identify better ways to distribute water through south Florida’s massive water management system. The District’s work will have long-lasting benefits to the south Florida community and natural environment, including the Everglades National Park, and has received widespread accolades from urban water users and the environmental community.

“Growing Blue was developed to increase awareness of our global water challenges, and to highlight the solutions,” said Terry Mah, president and CEO of Veolia Environnement North America, who spoke on behalf of Growing Blue members. “Through its sound water management policies, the South Florida Water Management District is greatly improving the link between the natural and social communities of southern Florida. This contribution to our environment is absolutely in line with the principles of Growing Blue.”

SFWMD won out of a competitive field of finalists, all of whom are making significant contributions to America’s water future. The three finalists are (in alphabetical order):

  • Blue Legacy – Founded in 2008 by Alexandra Cousteau, working to shape society’s dialogue to include water as one of the defining issues of the 21st century.
  • Maryland Department of the Environment/Department of Agriculture – Pioneering the use of a market-based trading system to address nitrogen and phosphorous build-ups in the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the United States.
  • MolsonCoors – Leading a collaborative movement to improve social and environmental integrity in Colorado’s Clear Creek Watershed.

Short interviews with Walter Wilcox, representing the SFWMD, can be found at this link.

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