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President Office — Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 23, 2018

CONTACT: Katie Betta, (850) 487-5229


Statement by Senate President Negron on President Trump Signing America’s Water Infrastructure Act

Legislation authorizes construction of the Senate Bill 10 Everglades Agricultural Area Southern Storage Reservoir

Stuart —

Florida Senate President Joe Negron (R-Stuart) today released the following statement regarding President Trump signing America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018.

 

“I am grateful to President Trump for signing this legislation into law and for the personal support he has expressed for the Everglades Agricultural Area Southern Storage Reservoir. Today’s action is the final approval needed to authorize construction of the $1.6 billion Senate Bill 10 Southern Reservoir, an indispensable component to ending the ruinous discharges from Lake Okeechobee.  Thanks to the Florida Legislature and Governor Scott, Florida’s $800 million share of this project has already been fully authorized and approved.  Simply put, it is time to start construction of the Reservoir that will reduce discharges from Lake Okeechobee by 63 percent and send more than 120 billion gallons of clean water south to the Everglades each year.

 

“A little history: at every step of the process to construct the Southern Reservoir, the critics have told me they needed many more years and sometimes decades to even begin thinking about this project.  If I had listened to the doubters, the aggressive timelines contained in Senate Bill 10 – now accomplished – would never have happened.  We would still be having ponderous meetings on all the other options to be considered and the obstacles that had to be overcome.  Now that we have heeded the citizens of Florida and are ready to start building the Reservoir, I am beginning to hear familiar bleak and dispiriting voices that it will take ten to twelve years for the Reservoir to come online. 

 

“I wholeheartedly reject this pessimistic response to our current challenge.  The Empire State Building was built in one year and 45 days.  I still have confidence in American ingenuity and resourcefulness.  Florida and our federal partners should immediately begin planning and designing the Reservoir, as well as obtaining the necessary permits.  We should set a goal to complete construction of the Reservoir in three to five years.  This legislation was the result of an emergency that has severely impacted the health of our people and our economy. Senate Bill 10 recognized this urgency by stating that the Reservoir would be constructed in parallel with the construction of other CEPP projects. If the government is not up to the task, then we should competitively outsource the project to the private sector and build in financial incentives for early completion.

 

“The nearly twenty-one million residents of Florida do not want to hear weak excuses about why earlier generations of Americans could apparently solve problems and accomplish goals without tedious procrastination.  Florida and Washington can work together to build this Reservoir now. 

 

“The current recovery effort across Florida’s Panhandle and Big Bend is a stark reminder of the importance of local, state, and federal partnerships in managing Florida’s water resources. Ongoing investments in our state’s water infrastructure are critical not only to ridding our state of the harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee, but also to local and state emergency management efforts that help keep our communities safe when we face significant and life threatening events like we saw with Hurricane Michael just two weeks ago.

 

“I predict that one day a few years from now we will look back with pride on how we stopped dispatching excess water from Lake Okeechobee east and west into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers and instead sent it south to the Everglades and Florida Bay via the Southern Reservoir.  A groundbreaking this fall is in order.  Let’s get it done.”