Tallahassee — Senator Joe Negron, Chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations and of the Senate Select Committee on Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee Basin (IRLLOB), and Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, today released the following statements regarding members of the Joint Legislative Budget Commission (LBC) unanimously approving a budget amendment which aims to reduce releases from Lake Okeechobee through a number of water redirection and storage projects.
“The proposals adopted today are exactly the types of short-term solutions our state government needs to reduce harmful water flow into our estuaries,” said Chair Negron (R-Stuart). “By focusing on efforts that can be immediately implemented, such as changes to pump schedules and increasing water storage on public lands, we can help mitigate the amount of polluted water flowing into our vital waterways.”
Amendment B0147 will provide Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection with an additional $2,769,525 in budget authority from the Water Management Lands Trust Fund for the Grants and Aids to Water Management District Wetlands Protection special category.
“I commend Governor Scott, Chair Negron, and agency staff for bringing this proposal forward,” said Leader Benacquisto (R-Ft. Myers), member of the Senate Select Committee on IRLLOB. “Today’s funding approval is another step in the right direction toward reducing the harmful discharges that have damaged our estuaries and an important stride toward protecting the Caloosahatchee River.”
The funding will be used to help reduce the flow of water to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers. Projects include operational and structural changes to existing system infrastructure that will help mitigate the estuary flows and high stages in the Water Conservation Areas (WCAs) by moving excess water south to Everglades National Park. This will allow maximization of critical pump stations to move excess water from the WCAs, thereby reducing their stages, so additional Lake Okeechobee flows can be sent south. Other short-term projects include storing water on public lands in the St. Lucie, Okeechobee, and Caloosahatchee Basins.
For more information on today’s meeting, please visit the Joint Legislative Budget Commission’s website at http://www.leg.state.fl.us/cgi-bin/View_Page.pl?File=index_css.html&Directory=committees/joint/Jlbc/.
CONTACT: Britton Alexander,