Congressman Francis Rooney recently gave an update on Lake Okechobee (“Lake O”) at the Women’s Republican Club of Naples luncheon held at the Tiburon Golf and Country Club. Members of the Caxambas Republican Club were present for the briefing.
Per Rooney, in July the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) announced an expedited timeline for the repair of the Herbert Hoover Dike. He met personally with Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney a couple of weeks ago and urged him to direct funds from the hurricane disaster relief program to the Herbert Hoover Dike repair project.
Joined with $206 million recently appropriated by the House, a total of $514 million will be set aside to complete the dike repairs by 2022, instead of the end of the decade. Every year saved completing these repairs is a year that harmful releases into our ecosystem will stop sooner.
In addition to the dike, Rooney successfully fought for funding to complete CERP (Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan) projects. Per Rooney, “We have united the Florida delegation like never before and I have personally brought House leadership to Southwest Florida to see the watershed first hand.
“Now we are seeing results here in Southwest Florida with a record $115 million set aside for CERP in the FY2019 budget. With these dollars, construction will begin on the EAA reservoir to store water south of the lake and move it into the treatment basins and ultimately into Florida Bay. Several projects which are nearly complete, including the Picayune Strand, will finally be finished. Although these recent successes at the federal level will not solve our water quality issues as quickly as we all want, they will solve them PERMANENTLY.”
Call for Action: Rooney announced that on August 15, officials from the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Interior, Army Corps of Engineers and South Florida Water Management District will tour areas hardest hit by toxic algae blooms and then travel to Fort Myers Beach for a working session with members of area chambers of commerce, fishing, real estate, tourism and hospitality industries. Rooney is hoping that seeing the situation firsthand will help the call to action, saying “Washington, D.C. people seeing the devastation in person and having a dialogue with those directly affected, is critical to understanding the urgency of providing resources to solve the immediate needs of our community.”