WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — West Palm Beach mayor's and other local officials on Monday called on Florida lawmakers to pass a bill that will continue to provide drinking water from Lake Okeechoee to residents.
Mayor Keith James said SB 2508, officially called the "Environmental Resources" measure, will help ensure that Lake O operations meet the needs of South Floridians, including those who are dependent upon it for their water supply.
"It remains especially critical to the city of West Palm Beach," James said. "Over the course of a year, half of our water — that's 50% — can come from Lake Okeechobee."
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Currently, Grassy Waters Preserve and a system of lakes around downtown West Palm Beach are sourced by Lake Okeechobee.
James and other local leaders on Monday said SB 2508 will take decisions about Lake O water levels out of the hands of bureaucrats in Washington, and keep them on the local level.
"It is imperative for our state to control our water supply system. We should never let bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. control our water supplies," said Palm Beach County Commissioner Mack Bernard.
"We don't want people in Washington or Jacksonville determining what the level of the lake should be. We'd like to have some certainty and some sustainability going forward," James said.
The mayor added he's concerned that if the Lake O water level gets too low, there won't be an adequate drinking water supply in West Palm Beach for certain residents.
The Florida Legislature has until Friday — when the state's legislative session ends — to approve SB 2508.