The Gormley Files – Preserving Our Natural Resources Preserves Health
Good news! The bill referred to below passed the Senate on October 10 – thanks to all who sent messages to their Senators! Read more here: https://mast.house.gov/blog?ID=021535EC-B791-4B8E-857F-BEA2B12FAD18
Senate Must Pass The Water Resources Development Act
by James J. Gormley
Fixing our water issues is perhaps the most important priority for the state of Florida, the region and the country.
On September 13th, the House passed a bi-partisan version of the Water Resources Development Act, including a provision that Florida Congressman Brian Mast wrote with Senator Nelson and Senator Rubio to authorize the EAA Southern Storage Reservoir.
The Water Resources Development Act is a biennial bill that authorizes new water infrastructure projects and makes improvements to water programs not just in Florida, but throughout the entire United States.
The problem: Discharges from Lake Okeechobee are damaging Florida’s Treasure Coast not only because they contain toxic algal blooms but also because the freshwater infusion into a brackish estuary kills plant life, harms animals and destroys the environment. To prevent these discharges, the water must instead be sent south of Lake Okeechobee – mimicking the natural flow.
The solution: In 2017, the State of Florida passed Senate Bill 10, which authorized the construction of a water reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee to store and treat water, thus limiting these damaging discharges.
The bill was then reviewed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and referred to the U.S. Congress in July for authorization by the federal government, who will share in half of the costs for the project. This bill authorizes the EAA Southern Storage Reservoir so that design and construction can get underway as soon as possible.
This bipartisan bill includes all of Florida’s Treasure Coast priorities from the version passed by the House on June 6th as well as the updated provision that Representative Mast wrote with Senators Rubio and Nelson to authorize the EAA Southern Storage Reservoir. Also in the bill are important provisions that Congress Mast wrote to force the Army Corps to redo the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule that determines when discharges happen, and to develop technology for the large-scale filtration of water, including early detection, prevention and management of harmful algal blooms.
The compromise bill passed the House of Representatives on September 13, 2018 and is expected to be voted on in the Senate this month. We know people are getting sick, animals are dying and our environment is being demolished. We cannot wait any longer to get this bill signed into law.