Sun Sentinel

Judge denies SFWMD's attempt to lift court oversight of Everglades water quality projects

MIAMI — A federal judge late Monday afternoon unexpectedly threw out the South Florida Water Management District's attempt to get out from under the court's oversight of Everglades restoration projects.

Citing the changing makeup of the district's board, U.S. District Judge Federico A. Moreno said continuing with the case when the new board could with draw the motion would be "like a gerbil in a treadmill."

"I don't want to do something and then have the new board members come and say, 'There's a new sheriff in town, and we've changed our mind,'" Moreno said.

At its November meeting, the district board voted to ask the court to vacate a 27-year-old agreement between the state and federal governments to work on project to clean water headed to Everglades National Park. As part of the so-called "consent decree," the court had the authority to make sure water the water was clean enough, just 10 parts per billion of phosphorus, a fertilizer that was causing cattails to take over the Everglades' natural sawgrass.

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