BRADENTON, Fla. — The South Florida Water Management District paid $194 million in cash Tuesday for the purchase of 26,800 acres of land from U.S. Sugar Corp. for Everglades restoration, and may use debt to buy additional acreage over the next decade.

The district, a state agency that oversees water resources in 16 South Florida counties, closed on the first phase of the controversial sugar and citrus land purchase in a transaction that included options to buy the remaining 153,000 acres owned by U.S. Sugar.

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