This week the House of Representatives passed a bill I helped write, called the Water Resources Development Act, to help protect Florida’s waterways. This is great news because this critical bipartisan legislation included a number of important provisions that I wrote to reduce discharges from Lake Okeechobee and combat harmful algal blooms:
- The bill accelerates construction of the EAA Southern Storage Reservoir by directing the Army Corps that they do not need a “new start” or additional authorization to begin construction.
- The bill mandates that, as part of the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual, the Army Corps must seek to minimize discharges to the estuaries, including considering a complete prohibition on discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie Estuary.
- The bill requires the Army Corps to conduct research to determine the causes of harmful algal blooms in Lake Okeechobee and implement measures to effectively detect, prevent, treat and eliminate harmful algal blooms.
- The bill requires the Army Corps to coordinate with both federal and state agencies—including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and the Florida Department of Health—on monitoring, forecasting, and notification of cyanobacteria levels in Lake Okeechobee.
- The bill authorizes the Loxahatchee Watershed Restoration Project, which is a component of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.
- This bill includes a fix to ensure the C-43 reservoir - critical to reducing algal blooms in the Caloosahatchee - stays on track.
- And more!
On the flip side, the bad news is that after fighting tooth and nail to secure an historic $250 million in funding for the Everglades, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi decided to lump this critical funding into a piece of legislation loaded with partisan poison pills. These unrelated provisions jeopardize funding for the Everglades and threaten to derail our bipartisan work. But I refuse to let this critical funding be held hostage for political purposes, so I will keep fighting to get it across the finish line! Check out this week’s Week In Review to learn more.
In case you missed it, here are a few other things that happened this week:
- I testified before Congress to prevent your taxpayer dollars from being used to spray toxic chemicals on Florida’s waterways.
- I spoke at the state’s Blue-Green Algae Task Force meeting about the need to come together to protect our community from being poisoned by the Army Corps of Engineers.
- I helped introduce legislation to make the transition to civilian life easier for veterans after serving our nation.