News Release: Florida House of Representatives
PORT ST LUCIE – Representative Gayle Harrell’s, House Memorial 607 which urges the United States Congress to enact, before adjournment, the Water Resources Development Act authorizing the next phase of Everglades restoration as part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan will be heard on Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 1:00pm.
Key projects include the Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands, the C-111 Spreader Canal, the Broward County Water Preserve Area, the Caloosahatchee River C-43 West Basin Storage Reservoir and the Central Everglades Planning Project. The Memorial calls for continued funding of projects already under construction as part of the Indian River Lagoon South project including the C-44 canal. It specifically urges Congress to authorize and appropriate funds for all these projects.
“This Memorial sends an important message to Congress and the President. It is the voice of the people of the State of Florida as expressed through their elected representatives in the Legislature,” stated Representative Harrell.
The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP or Plan) established a plan for the restoration of the Everglades and provided a framework and guide to restore, protect and preserve the water resources of central and southern Florida in 16 counties covering over an 18,000-square-mile area. Under CERP the State of Florida entered into a partnership with the federal government to share the cost of restoration equally. The Plan was approved in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2000 and includes more than 60 elements that will take more than 30 years to construct.
“These projects are a key component for improving water management and addressing the ecological crisis facing the Indian River Lagoon, Lake Okeechobee, the Caloosahatchee River and the St. Lucie River,” said Representative Harrell.
Since 2000 the State of Florida has spent over $2.4 Billion on various projects and land purchases connected with CERP. Federal authorization and appropriation of funds for projects that are already underway under WRDA 2007 (the last WRDA bill passed by the federal government) as well as the inclusion of the Central Everglades Planning Project in the final version of the current WRDA bill are essential to reducing the ecological damage and negative economic impact of the large releases of water from Lake Okeechobee.
“The State of Florida is living up to its promise under CERP,” stressed Representative Harrell, “Now is the time for Congress to step up to the plate and do it’s fair share by passing WRDA and funding these important projects.”