CORVALLIS - The National Academy of Sciences has appointed Wayne C. Huber, a professor of water resources engineering at Oregon State University, to chair a high-profile national research committee charged with reviewing a massive, $8 billion, 30-year restoration project in the Everglades.
Huber will serve on the Committee on Independent Scientific Review of Everglades Restoration Progress, part of the National Research Council, and will help prepare a report to Congress during the next two years on progress of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.
"Everglades restoration is important for the whole country," said Huber, who is a professor in OSU's Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering. "The Everglades themselves are a unique national treasure, and under the 50-50 federal-state cost-sharing agreement, all federal taxpayers are paying half the $8 billion bill over the 30-year restoration project lifetime."
The historic greater Everglades ecosystem stretches more than 200 miles, from Orlando in the north to Everglades National Park, southwest of Miami, and is home to an enormous variety of sub-tropical wildlife. The whole south Florida region, and especially the "River of Grass" inland from Miami, has been encroached upon for more than 120 years, with attendant floods, droughts and pollution.
"If the restoration effort does not succeed, the ecology of Everglades National Park and other substantial natural areas may continue to decline," Huber said.
The essence of the restoration plan is to return the Everglades hydrology to as natural a condition as possible by preventing human-made drainage of water to the ocean, with the hope that the ecology of the Everglades will respond positively. Since water is also needed by urban areas and agriculture, a key aspect of restoration progress will be to ensure that the natural system receives its allocated share of this precious and limited resource.
The review that Huber will lead will assess progress in restoring all the land and water managed by the state and federal government within the South Florida Ecosystem, as well as scientific and engineering issues that might affect progress in achieving the natural system restoration goals.
Huber is an expert in urban hydrology and stormwater management, nonpoint source pollution, and transport processes related to water quality. Prior to joining the OSU faculty in 1991, Huber served as a professor of environmental engineering sciences at the University of Florida.