Last week, Governor Rick Scott signed Senate Bill 10 into law, clearing the way for a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee to store, clean and properly convey freshwater. The historic occasion was the culmination of an extended effort by thousands of organizations, companies and individuals and was led through the Florida Legislature by Senator Joe Negron. It marks an important step in the fight to restore the Everglades. Days later, U.S. Rep. Brian Mast introduced federal legislation to help expedite the process
The Lake Okeechobee bill is a $1.5 billion plan with a goal to prevent algae blooms that have been harmful to the environment and tourism. It was a top priority for Senate President Joe Negron, whose district has been plagued by algae. The proposal is to build a 240,000-acre-feet reservoir system to treat nutrients.
The project is designed to stop discharges of toxic algae-infused overflow into streams and estuaries to the east and west by storing 78 billion gallons of water in a reservoir to the south, with treatment and ultimate discharge into the Everglades and Florida Bay.
The law forbids use of eminent domain, relying on land the state already owns or can swap with private landowners.
Keep Florida Fishing, the advocacy arm of the American Sportfishing Association, issued a written statement praising the governor’s action.
“With today’s signing of SB 10, Gov. Scott has shown his strong commitment to advancing Everglades restoration,” said Kellie Ralston, Florida fishery policy director for the Association.
“Thank you to Gov. Rick Scott, Senate President Joe Negron, and House Speaker Richard Corcoran for their leadership in preserving and protecting Florida’s natural resources,” said Gary Jennings, director of Keep Florida Fishing. “This will ensure that Florida remains the ‘Fishing Capital of the World’ for generations to come.”