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Repairs Vital to Increase Water Storage Capacity Within Lake Okeechobee to Reduce Need for Harmful Discharges East and West

WASHINGTON, DC – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Representatives Patrick E. Murphy (FL-18) and Curt Clawson (FL-19) introduced legislation to enact an advanced deadline for completion of repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike surrounding Lake Okeechobee to help bring relief to our waterways that are currently in crisis. The bipartisan bill calls for an emergency appropriation of $800 million to carry out these expedited repairs so that once completed, more water can safely be stored within the lake, reducing the need for damaging discharges east and west into local estuaries.

Joining in introducing this legislation are leaders of the Florida Congressional Delegation and Everglades Caucus, U.S. Reps. Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20) and Vern Buchanan (FL-16). The bill has also received the support of the Everglades Foundation. (Please find attached a copy of the legislation).

“For decades the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers have suffered from damaging discharges from Lake Okeechobee, and unfortunately this year is no different. Our waterways are in crisis and require immediate action. That is why I am joining with my Florida colleagues, Congressmen Curt Clawson, Alcee L. Hastings, and Vern Buchanan, to demand that the federal government make it a national priority to repair the Herbert Hoover Dike surrounding the lake by providing emergency funding to expedite its completion,” said Murphy. “By increasing the water storage capacity within the lake, we can reduce the need for these harmful discharges to the east and the west as we continue pushing forward long-term solutions to restore the natural southward flow of the Everglades. By working together – across the aisle and the state – we will make our voices heard in this fight to protect our waterways.”

“With recent rainfalls in Florida reaching historic levels for this time of year, the Army Corps of Engineers began massive discharges of water from Lake Okeechobee to the east and west. These discharges to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers pollute our waterways, destroy our fragile ecosystems, devastate our tourism economy, and pose an immediate public safety crisis. The pictures of our Gulf waters in Southwest Florida are shocking, and to see it up close, as I do from Bonita Beach, is heartbreaking. I want to thank my good friends and colleagues from the Florida Delegation: including Representative Patrick Murphy, Representative Vern Buchanan, and Representative Alcee Hastings, for joining me in introducing this bipartisan legislation to provide one of the long-term solutions aimed at reducing the massive discharges from Lake Okeechobee. While this is a big step forward, there are many other pieces to the long-term solution for improving water quality in Southwest Florida that all of us in elected office will continue to push,” said Clawson.

“Discharge from Lake Okeechobee has caused significant damage to our region over the decades. Polluted runoff damages ecosystems, hurts local businesses, and threatens the health and livelihoods of thousands of residents. This issue is nothing new, and it is time for the federal government to step in and address it once and for all,” said Hastings, co-chair of the Everglades Caucus and Florida Congressional Delegation. “After heavy rainfalls this year, seepage into our waterways has had a devastating effect. I am pleased to join with my colleagues, Representatives Patrick Murphy, Curt Clawson, and Vern Buchanan, who have put forward this bipartisan legislation to expedite repairs and increase storage capacity of the Lake. The situation is becoming dire and we cannot afford to put off making these crucial repairs.”

“I place a high priority on guarding Florida’s waterways and preserving the Sunshine State’s pristine coastline. I’m concerned that the situation on Lake Okeechobee is choking off the growth of aquatic plants and affecting iconic animals such as the manatee. That’s why I’m proud to support this bipartisan legislation that will expedite the repair of the historic Herbert Hoover Dike,” said Buchanan, co-chair of the Florida Congressional Delegation.

A vocal advocate in the fight to protect the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon, Murphy has been leading efforts to enact an all-of-the-above approach to address the current crisis and move forward long-term solutions to this ongoing problem. This includes recent actions to secure full funding for Everglades restoration efforts like the local C-44 reservoir and stormwater treatment area, which are critical to improving the health of local waterways as well as the entire Everglades system. Following Murphy’s request, the President’s budget included $59.5 million to keep C-44 moving forward, which is nearly 80 percent of the entire funding committed by the Administration for overall Everglades restoration going to this local project. Additionally, Murphy led a bipartisan effort calling for the authorization of the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) to send more clean water south and called on state lawmakers to use Amendment 1 funds for land acquisition and conservation efforts as 75 percent of Florida voters intended.

Erin Moffet (202-225-3026)


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