Everglades Planning Project caught up in red tape

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. - The decision to delay the approval of the Central Everglades Planning Project is devastating for some residents.

"This is a terrible thing," says Nyla Pipes with One Florida Foundation, "This puts this off maybe even out of my lifetime."

Pipes has spent months fighting for the project which would push discharges from Lake Okeechobee south, away from the Indian River Lagoon.  She even went to Washington, D.C. to lobby for the project.

Tuesday's news blindsided Pipes and Irene Gomes.

Gomes owns a motel in Jensen Beach. The Driftwood Motel lost money last year due to toxic water. Gomes estimates about $2,000 each month.  She worries those problems will get worse if the government doesn't act.

"I'm very devastated because I know we're gonna have more discharges and I know I'm gonna lose at least as much if not more in the coming summer," says Gomes.

Mark Perry with the Florida Oceanographic Society says the delay is a big concern.

"There is absolutely a feeling of frustration amongst all the environmental community because everybody was supportive," says Perry.

He says the project needs to be approved so it can be included in the Water Resource Development Act of 2014.

"If it misses this water bill it could be another seven years before we get the water bill," says Perry.

Many people is depending on this project to get approved. For people like Gomes, it means their livelihood.

"If we can't get the water moving south we're just doomed to repeat," says Gomes.

Gomes says her business was able to survive this year because of the harsh winter up north and people coming here to Florida to escape.  She may not be as lucky next time.


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