CLEWISTON, Fla. — Florida Sen. Rick Scott was in South Florida on Tuesday where he toured the Herbert Hoover Dike.
Scott was joined by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and local officials during his trip to Clewiston in Hendry County.
The dike is a 143-mile earthen dam that surrounds Lake Okeechobee, designed decades ago for the purpose of flood control and water conservation.
However, the structure prevented the natural flow of water south to the Everglades.
The dike has been undergoing $1.8 billion in repairs since 2007, but those improvements are scheduled to be completed by the end of the year thanks to state and federal funding.
President Donald Trump visited the dike in May 2019 to inspect the ongoing repairs to the structure.
The project is designed to keep the surrounding communities safe from flooding.
"I feel like our level of safety and security has increased," said Clewiston Mayor Kristine Petersen about the 15-year project.
She said the work being done on the dike at the edge of her city is comforting.
"We rely on the Corps, and they have our back," Petersen said.
Col. Jamie Booth with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Tuesday that the project is 92 percent complete.
Booth said 56 miles of the Herbert Hoover Dike along Lake Okeechobee has been strengthened to prevent flooding in nearby communities.
"We're looking to get this project done about three years ahead of when we expected it to and below-cost or below budget," Booth said.
Scott's office said his visit was to reiterate his support for the state's environment and the Everglades.
The senator said it's been night and day over the last decade when it comes to funding for Everglades restoration projects.
Scott added it's important to get every project completed and funded, including the EAA Reservoir for water storage south of the lake, which was recently shut out of the federal infrastructure bill.
"We're not done. There's still a lot of work to do. The bottom line is we have to build a better economy … then the revenues will go up, and we can spend more money," Scott said.
The money spent on the project is an important reminder for Petersen to make your voice be heard.
"It doesn't make any difference who you are. Whether you live in a big city, or whether you live in America's Sweetest Town at the liquid heart of the state of Florida. We matter," Petersen said.
Below is the full statement Scott released after his Tuesday visit:
"It was good to be with the Army Corps and our strong local leaders today to see the great progress being made at the Herbert Hoover Dike. By prioritizing Florida's environment we know that generations to come will grow up in the Sunshine State we all know and love. While I was governor, we really put an emphasis on the importance of our environment by investing one billion dollars in Florida's natural resources. I was the first governor to dedicate state funding to make the critical repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike at Lake Okeechobee and am proud that Senator [Marco] Rubio and I were able to help secure an unprecedented one billion dollars for Everglades restoration, the largest single amount ever allocated by the federal government. Now, I'm working to make sure that every dollar of this funding will go toward the most critical projects that build on our restoration efforts and provide a good return on investment for Floridians and all American taxpayers."
In the statement above, Scott said that both he and Rubio helped secure the billion dollars for Everglades restoration. However, neither Republican senator voted for the infrastructure bill when the vote was held Aug. 10, 2021.