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Judge halts Everglades reservoir project

MIAMI, March 24 (UPI) -- A Florida judge has halted the construction of a reservoir intended to keep pollution from the Everglades, saying "better viable alternatives" will be explored.

In his ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Federico Moreno said "almost every expert" agreed there were better alternatives to the partially built $800 million reservoir project for removing damaging phosphorus flowing into the Everglades from sugar farms, cattle ranches and suburbs, The Miami Herald reported Thursday.

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Moreno said the South Florida Water Management District's shrinking budget, the state's purchase of 26,000 acres of sugar fields and another judge's order to expand other cleanup efforts had combined to change the strategy for reducing the flow of pollution into the Everglades.

"It seems that given these changed circumstances, now is the time to move forward with exploring better viable alternatives rather than cling to what was promised in the past," Moreno wrote.

Kirk Fordham, chief executive officer for the Everglades Foundation, said money already spent on the reservoir wouldn't be wasted because it could be easily converted into a shallow storm water treatment area to help meet tough water quality standards for the Everglades.

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