FLORIDA REALTORS: Fla. one step closer to reservoir for toxic discharges

By Press release submission | | Jul 16, 2018

Florida Realtors issued the following announcement on July 13.

LAKE OKEECHOBEE, Fla. – July 13, 2018 – A plan to build a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee to reduce toxic discharges was approved Wednesday afternoon by the Army Corps of Engineers and hand-delivered to Congress.

The plan now can be included in the federal Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA) – the list of water projects throughout the country to be done by the Corps.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson announced the news via Twitter.

Here’s what happens next:

Because the House approved the WRDA bill in June with a placeholder for the reservoir pending the Corps’ approval, the project can be added to the bill.

WRDA is pending Senate approval. Because its version of the bill also has a placeholder for the reservoir, that language must be replaced with the actual authorization prior to a vote, which is expected later this month.

Assuming the House and Senate bills aren’t exactly alike, both will go to a conference committee to come up with a compromise bill.

Both chambers will vote on the final bill.

President Donald Trump is expected to sign it into law.

Federal funding will have to be part of an upcoming appropriations bill.

The federal government is supposed to pay half the estimated $1.6 billion project cost. The project, designed by the South Florida Water Management District and submitted to the Corps in late March, includes a 10,100-acre reservoir and 6,500-acre man-made marsh. The project could be fully designed and built in seven to nine years, district Executive Director Ernie Marks told legislators in January.

District engineers say the project will be able to reduce discharges to both the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers by 63 percent and send more than 120 billion gallons of clean water south to the Everglades each year. The Florida Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott approved the reservoir plan pushed by Senate President Joe Negron, a Stuart Republican, in May 2017.

Water management district engineers immediately went to work on the design. Some environmentalists objected, saying the project should be bigger. But district officials countered no property owners in the area were willing to sell their land or swap it for state-owned land elsewhere, and the legislation didn’t allow taking land by eminent domain. Most environmental groups got behind the district’s plan as the best option available.

An independent peer review by Battelle Memorial Institute confirmed the project would “improve the quantity, quality, timing and distribution of water flows” to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers.

Original source can be found here.

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