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Lake Okeechobee Southern Reservoir Soon to be a Reality

May 10th, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

Governor Rick Scott has signed legislation speeding up the construction of a major reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee. the plan is still five years in the making, but as Mike Vasilinda tells us, the fact that it is law is one of the miracles of the 2017 legislative session.

For 242 days last summer, Florida was under an emergency order. Water discharges from Lake Okeechobee had resulted in toxic algae which sponsor Rob Bradley called:

“A call to action”

It fouled waterways on both the east and west coasts.

“we can’t wait any longer” Bradley told colleagues.

The fix is a massive reservoir, south of lake Okeechobee. The plan has been around for 20 years.

But It took the muscle and political capital of the Senate President to make the one point five billion dollar plan happen.

“And history will record that this legislature not only acted but we funded souther storage” said Negron after the session ended.

“What Joe Negron did was kick this in the pants” says Everglades Foundation C.E.O. Eric Eikenberg.

The effort to build the reservoir also had to overcome the efforts of three dozen lobbyists hired by big sugar.

To combat their numbers, environmentalists bussed in hundreds of everyday people to tell their stories.

“We rallied the troops. We outmanned special interests, and the god guys won on this. The Everglades won” says Eikenberg.

The reservoir is still 5 years away. When done, it will hold 78 billion gallons of water.

78 billion gallons of water is enough to fill nearly 12 thousand olympic sized swimming pools.

Florida’s drought will likely prevent the need for discharges, and that should avoid more algae blooms this year. Next year remains a big question.

Governor Rick Scott had called for an additional two hundred million dollars from lawmakers to fund dike repairs around Lake Okeechobee. They refused, in part, because the dike repair is a federal responsibility.

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