Ditchmen • NUCA of Florida October 2018 - Page 13

Trump Signs off on Major Reservoir Project NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA OCT. 23, 2018 | JIM TURNER TALLAHASSEE — Construction of a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee that state lawmakers envision as a way to help a region beset by toxic algae blooms was part of a wide-ranging water bill signed Tuesday by President Donald Trump. The $6 billion America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 includes authorization for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin work on a massive reservoir project that has been a priority of Florida Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart. The next step is for Congress to allocate the $200 million a year needed for construction of the roughly $1.6 billion project, which supporters have envisioned as being half-funded by the federal government. Negron on Tuesday called the reservoir “an indispensable component to ending the ruinous discharges from Lake Okeechobee.” The idea of the reservoir is to move water south from Lake Okeechobee into the reservoir instead of releasing it into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries in Southeast and Southwest Florida. The issue has been high-profile in Negron’s Treasure Coast district, where residents blame releases from the lake for algae-tainted water in the St. Lucie Estuary. “Simply put, it is time to start construction of the reservoir that will reduce discharges from Lake Okeechobee by 63 percent and send more than 120 billion gallons of clean water south to the Everglades each year,” Negron said in a statement. OCTOBER 2018 • DITCHMEN 13