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Florida Senate to expand Lake Okeechobee reservoir proposal

Posted at 6:14 AM, Mar 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-08 07:20:56-05

In an attempt to drum up support for a controversial priority of Senate President Joe Negron, a key lawmaker is adding water projects from across the state to a proposal that would spend $2.4 billion to build a 60,000-acre reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee.

Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, intends to amend the southern reservoir measure (SB 10) Wednesday, prior to a vote by the Environment and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee.

 

The changes proposed by Bradley, the committee chairman, include an additional $35 million annually for the St. Johns River, its tributaries or the Keystone Heights lake region in North Florida, as well as $2 million annually for water issues in the Florida Keys.

The money would come from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund, which receives money from a 2014 constitutional amendment that directs a third of a real-estate tax be used for water and land preservation.

“Sen. Bradley's intention, as I understand it, is to include other water issues that are also important to other members of the Senate and to have a coast-to-coast water plan,” Negron, R-Stuart, told reporters on Tuesday.

Bradley's proposal would also ask the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to speed up repairs on the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee and would request that the state Department of Environmental Protection establish a water reuse grant program for wastewater treatment facilities.

Farmers and elected officials south of the lake --- as well as some North Florida politicians --- have blasted Negron's reservoir proposal. The plan would shift water released from the lake to the south, away from estuaries to the east and west.

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