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Army Corps Reverses Field, Says Reservoir South Of Lake Okeechobee Must Wait

Amy Green
The bulrushes rimming Lake Okeechobee form trails of sorts for boaters.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is reversing its stance and now says it must follow a schedule calling for a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee in 2021.

The corps had said it could accelerate the project aimed at improving water flow after toxic algae blooms last year prompted emergency declarations in four counties.

Colonel Jason Kirk now says the reservoir must wait.

The reservoir is part of a $17 billion restoration of the Everglades, the world’s largest of its kind. Legislation calls for speeding up the project, but it faces strong opposition.

Read more: Proposed Reservoir Puts Lake Okeechobee At The Center Of Debate Over Everglades Restoration

Environmental groups say the change does not affect the legislation.

Eric Eikenberg of the Everglades Foundation says the proposal pushed by Senate President Joe Negron includes language accelerating the project.

Meanwhile the corps also says it could speed up a $1.8 billion refurbishment of Lake Okeechobee’s dike with additional funding.

Kirk says the aging dike is prone to seepage.

Central Florida Sen. David Simmons has introduced legislation calling for the project to move faster after excess lake water triggered the toxic blooms.

Kirk says the corps will undertake a study as the dike rehabilitation nears completion into how much more water the state’s largest lake could hold.

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