WELLINGTON, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis celebrated Earth Day by signing the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) reservoir's project partnership agreement.
This agreement is between the state of Florida and the federal government to help curb harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee.
"In terms of meaning what we promised, I can tell you the Legislature is not equaling what I asked for," DeSantis said. "They're doing much more for both water resources and for Everglades, so we're actually putting the pedal to the metal, even in this uncertain budget time. But I think part of the reason why we're able to do this is because the state's healthy."
The 10,000-acre reservoir is expected to be built by the Army Corps of Engineers at a cost of $1.6 billion, with half the cost shared by the state.
"We haven't said the federal government needs to do all this," DeSantis said. "We've said we're going to do our share and we want support. We want a partnership."
It's all in an effort to bring an end to Lake Okeechobee water releases and the algae blooms it caused in Florida's waterways.
"We think that this project is absolutely essential to reduce harmful discharges to the northern estuaries and to help us send more clean water south to the Everglades," DeSantis said.
Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, a member of the governing board of the South Florida Water Management District and a Treasure Coast resident, was moved almost to tears.
"We are going to get this reservoir built," she said. "The Army Corps will build this reservoir and we will start sending Lake Okeechobee water south. It is the beginning of real change."
DeSantis said he expects work on the reservoir to start later this year.
South Florida Water Management District Chairman Chauncey Goss said the project is 12 months ahead of schedule. It is expected to be completed by 2027.