Saturday, October 21, 2017

Feds Now the Focus for Everglades, Lake Okeechobee Action


“naplesWith talk at the state level done for another year, legislative action on the Florida Everglades and Lake Okeechobee shifts to the federal government.

Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fort Myers, Naples), is making a push at getting funding for a series of restoration projects in the area.

“The key to Everglades restoration is the funding and completion of a series of projects authorized in the Water Resource Development Acts of 2007, 2014 and 2016 pursuant to the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Project, enacted in 2000,” Rooney said in a statement. “Additionally, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers needs funding to complete reinforcement of the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee. Florida’s entire Congressional delegation agrees on this issue and we ask that The White House include this important funding in their infrastructure budget, as President [Donald] Trump promised during his campaign.”

Rooney met with the Office of Management and Budget to try and get the authorized projects funded. The freshman congressman campaigned heavily on getting CERP funded during an election cycle which saw Lake Okeechobee discharges cause algal blooms and fish kills on the state’s east and west coasts.

The House isn’t the only chamber making a push either.

Senator Bill Nelson wrote a letter to Trump on Friday asking for $200 million in funding to speed up repairs of the Herbert Hoover Dike surrounding Lake Okeechobee.

“This is a critical public safety project, and I encourage you to direct the Army Corps to complete it as quickly as possible,” Nelson wrote.

Currently scheduled for completion in 2025, the Army Corps of Engineers estimates that with an extra $200 million per year, they can finish the project three years sooner.

Governor Rick Scott tried unsuccessfully to include $200 million for repairs in the state budget this year.

The Florida Legislature did, however, pass approval for a series of reservoirs to hold excess water to be built on state lands. A push to purchase land owned by U.S. Sugar within the Everglades Agricultural Area for water storage died in the legislature.

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