Water managers are ready to pay a contractor $12 million not to build something. And they consider it a really good deal.
"It's the best we can do under the circumstances,'' said Mike Collins, a member of the South Florida Water Management District's governing board. "We were potentially on the hook for $26 million.''
The proposed settlement is part of a $25 million hit the district will take for halting construction of a reservoir the size of Boca Raton once touted as the keystone of Everglades restoration. That was before Gov. Charlie Crist announced his controversial land deal with the U.S. Sugar Corp. last year. Critics call the unfinished reservoir — scuttled after $260 million in construction costs and now slated for redesign at uncertain expense — the most glaring example of the expensive hidden costs of the governor's sugar deal, which will pay the sugar giant $536 million for 77,000 acres of fields and groves.
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