Keep Florida Fishing, an advocacy arm of the American Sportfishing Association, and the Everglades Foundation praised the Florida legislature for its support of Everglades restoration after the passage of a bill that was sent to Gov. Rick Scott.
The legislation, a top priority of state Senate President Joe Negron (R-Stuart), would provide additional funding and accelerate the timeline to establish a water storage reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee with the goal of reducing harmful releases to coastal estuaries, including the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers.
The reservoir would reduce the amount of discharges to the east and west and will provide the option of sending Lake Okeechobee water south when the need arises.
“We are grateful for House Speaker Richard Corcoran, Rep. Matt Caldwell, Rep. Holly Raschein, Senate President Joe Negron, Sen. Rob Bradley, Sen. Jack Latvala and the entire Florida legislature for their support of Everglades restoration projects and funding,” American Sportfishing Association Florida fishery policy director Kellie Ralston said in a statement. “This much-needed focus on our state’s natural resources will provide for the implementation of comprehensive solutions that will have the greatest and most immediate impact on the Everglades, Florida Bay and our south Florida estuaries.”
“I applaud the Senate Committee on Evironmental Preservation and Conservation for voting favorably on SB 10,” said Eric Eikenberg, CEO of the Everglades Foundation. “The legislation would expedite water storage south of Lake Okeechobee to store, clean and send water into the Everglades and Florida Bay.”
Negron said the bill resulted from listening to Floridians.
“We are expanding this critical legislation to address an immediate response to the Lake Okeechobee crisis, along with other pressing water issues facing our state as a whole,” he said. “In 2016 we made an impressive start by passing Legacy Florida and a comprehensive water bill. Through Senate Bill 10 we are backing up those commitments with funding investments to improve water resources throughout our state.
“As we developed this legislation we heard from thousands of Floridians, and they have been clear that we must have clean water for our families and businesses, sufficient water for our agriculture industry, and we must preserve our unique rivers, springs and natural systems for the enjoyment of future generations,” Bradley said. “We cannot fail in this effort.”