According to a study completed by environmentalists from Mather Economics, investing nearly $12 billion into the Everglades will bring a $46 billion return and nearly 400,000 jobs over the next 50 years.
“This is an economic study that measures the return on investments that will go into Everglades restoration projects,” said Richard Gibbs, senior director of communications for the Everglades Foundation. “The study showed the amount of payback or economic return over the course of several years that Florida would receive through tourism, recreational actives, real estate value and commercial fishing.”
The Everglades Foundation commissioned Mather Economics to produce an estimate of economic value from the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan’s proposed projects. CERP is a menu of projects the federal and state governments are working on to restore the Everglades.
Edward O. Keith, Ph.D., pro-fessor in the Oceanographic Center, said, “South Florida, ultimately, gets the water they drink from the aquifers, which is more or less from the Everglades. If we want to continue to have lots of clean water to drink and cook with, we need to make sure the Everglades are cleaned up and kept clean.”
According to the study, the Everglades’ ecosystem and natural sheet flow has changed due to people’s effects on it. Canals were dug to drain South Florida sending valuable freshwater to sea.
Keith said, “The point of restor-ation is to reverse these impacts and to turn it back into a more natural system, which will maintain water quality and be habitat for the wildlife with recreational activities for people,” Keith said.
Gibbs said the economic study targeted six categories — commercial fishing, recreational fishing, improvement of real estate values, tourism, agriculture and wildlife habitat and hunting — to see how the restoration could impact job creation in each of those sectors. “The economists looked at what could be indirect sources of revenue for job creation associated with the Everglades restoration projects,” said Gibbs.
Erica Robbins, outreach pro-gram specialist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, South Florida Restoration Office, said, “This is a 20-year project and we’ll always need people. We’re doing construction, design and engineering, working on the development of other projects. We’ve got job opportunities in all different phases.”