Published: Sep 01, 2010 3:54 PM EDT
Updated: Sep 01, 2010 12:54 PM EDT

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) - A report to a federal judge recommends the South Florida Water Management District should not have to finish an Everglades restoration reservoir shelved by its land deal with U.S. Sugar Corp.

If U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno accepts that

recommendation, filed on Monday, it would remove a key legal hurdle to the district's proposed $197 million deal to buy 26,800 acres from U.S. Sugar.

Moreno has determined the district's 2008 decision to stop construction on the reservoir threatened to derail Everglades restoration in pursuit of a land deal with the sugar giant pushed by Gov. Charlie Crist.

The judge appointed a special master to coordinate how to proceed with getting the reservoir and Everglades restoration back on track.