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Everglades clean-up progress is slow, judge growing impatient

Eighteen months ago, the federal judge overseeing Everglades cleanup progress tentatively endorsed a state bid to buy sugar fields for restoration projects, calling the opportunity to "buy out the polluters" a logical solution to long-standing problems.

Chief U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno made it clear Tuesday that his patience was nearing an end -- both with delays in the controversial land deal and the glacial pace of the cleanup.

"When is it ever going to end? I guess 'When is it ever going to begin?' is the better question," the judge groused during a hearing in the 22-year-old lawsuit that forced Florida to reduce pollution flowing into the Everglades.

The judge said he would issue rulings later on pending motions, some of which he had put on hold while the South Florida Water Management District pursued a land deal with the U.S. Sugar Corp. that has been downsized twice because of declining tax revenues.

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