Incoming Florida Senate President Joe Negron Tuesday proposed spending $2.4 billion for a 60,000-acre reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee, on land currently used for farming.
The announcement was made at a news conference in Stuart.
The proposal is in response to complaints about the massive algal blooms on the Treasure Coast this summer, which were blamed by many coastal residents on releases of water from Lake Okeechobee, although studies showed the lake releases are just one part of the problem, and represent only about 20 percent of the freshwater entering the St. Lucie estuaries.
Hendry County Commissioner Janet Taylor was quick to voice her opposition to Sen. Negron’s plan.
“The people of the Glades communities are committed to finding solutions to reduce the discharges from Lake Okeechobee, but taking additional land from our communities is not the answer. Taking 60,000 additional acres would shut down another sugar mill,” she said. “Not only would it threaten our economy, but it also isn’t supported by science.
It’s disappointing that Senator Negron has allowed the priorities of radical activists to become part of his plans as senate president,” she said.
“We encourage the senate president-Designate to visit our communities and hear from us before pursuing his plan that takes the wrong approach. Solving the problems of his community should not occur at the expense of our communities,” said Commissioner Taylor.
The South Florida Water Management District’s plans call for reservoirs in all directions throughout the system: north of Lake Okeechobee to slow the flow of water and clean it before it goes into the lake; east of the lake to reduce the flow into the St. Lucie estuaries; west of the lake to reduce the flow into the Caloosahatchee River and store water that could be released as needed to the river in the dry season; and, south of the lake to store and clean water before sending it to the Everglades.
The SFWMD plan mirrors the recommendations made by the University of Florida Water Institute Study, calling for a system-wide approach rather than one big reservoir.