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Gov. Scott Will Sign Lake Okeechobee Water Bill

The water bill was a priority of Senate President Joe Negron.
The water bill was a priority of Senate President Joe Negron.

Gov. Rick Scott will sign a bill that includes money to speed construction of a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee — a top priority of Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart.

Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz confirmed Wednesday that the governor will sign the proposal (SB 10), which received final approval Tuesday from the House and Senate. The measure will allow Florida to bond up to $800 million to accelerate plans for the C-51 reservoir, which is part of a larger ongoing Everglades project effort called the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, or CERP.

The plan, which anticipates the federal government agreeing to pay half the costs for the reservoir, will cap annual state funding on the project at $64 million, down from an earlier proposal of $100 million.

The bill is aimed at reducing the recurrence of toxic algae outbreaks that have impacted Negron's Treasure Coast district and west coast communities along the Caloosahatchee River. Treasure Coast residents blame polluted water releases from the lake for the algae outbreaks.

Scott's office, however, has criticized lawmakers for failing to approve $200 million to speed repairs to the dike around Lake Okeechobee.

“Gov. Scott has been clear that he supports storage south of Lake Okeechobee in the A2 Reservoir and is glad the Legislature passed a bill which helps address the problems surrounding Lake Okeechobee and benefits Florida's environment,” Scott spokesman McKinley Lewis said in a statement on Tuesday. “However, this is only part of the solution. The Legislature should include $200 million in the budget to help fix the Herbert Hoover Dike — a project which President (Donald) Trump has already committed federal funding to.”

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The News Service of Florida