Governor Rick Scott met with White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney to continue advocating for full funding for the repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike surrounding Lake Okeechobee. The Governor also spoke about the importance of the federal government quickly approving the EAA reservoir project, which will hold more water south of Lake Okeechobee. For decades, Congress has failed to address these issues and Governor Scott has fought for these projects which will ultimately help minimize harmful water releases to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers and Estuaries that can cause algae to bloom.
To immediately help the growing issues related to algal blooms, Governor Scott announced that at his direction, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has partnered with the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) to identify additional funding for more water flow monitoring stations along the Caloosahatchee River. These devices will provide water managers with new data to assess conditions in the river and the origin of water following into the system. This will help water mangers determine the best course of action to help our communities.
Governor Scott said, “Today, I met with the White House on the importance of quickly providing full funding for the repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike and approving the EAA Reservoir project. Our focus remains on limiting the harmful impacts from Lake Okeechobee water releases by the federal government, and after decades of Congressional inaction, our communities are facing this problem once again. The state continues to take proactive and unprecedented steps to help solve this problem because our families deserve action and clean water.”
DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein said, “The health of Florida’s coastal estuaries and the waterways that feed them are vital to our state’s environment, economy and communities. DEP continues to actively monitor our waterways and these additional stations will help us and our local partners respond to changing conditions. DEP remains committed to partnering with our local communities to better protect our waterways.”
SFWMD Governing Board Member Jaime Weisinger said, “Additional monitoring means better information for making informed decisions. These monitoring stations will help provide new flow data to DEP and further aid in the state’s mission restore and protect the Caloosahatchee Estuary.”
Mayor of Sanibel Kevin Ruane, said “The City of Sanibel and our west coast partners are very pleased that the DEP is moving forward with installation of flow monitoring devices within the Caloosahatchee watershed. On average, more than 50 percent of the flow that the Caloosahatchee estuary receives comes from the watershed. The information provided by the flow monitoring devices will help resource managers identify where stormwater runoff is coming from and determine the types of projects and best management practices needed to address these flows in the future.”
In addition to the water flow monitoring stations, three additional monitoring stations are being installed through a joint agreement that was approved by the Lee County Board of County Commissioners last week to expand water monitoring efforts in the downstream Caloosahatchee watershed. These monitoring stations will be located below the Franklin Lock along the freshwater tributaries of the Caloosahatchee Estuary. Funding for this project is being provided by DEP, SFWMD, U.S. Geological Survey and Lee County. Coastal communities in Florida are already seeing the impacts and algae blooms due to lake releases this year. Last year, the Governor signed legislation to expedite the EAA Reservoir and secured an additional $50 million for the Herbert Hoover Dike, bringing the state’s total investment to $100 million.
Also, last week, Governor Scott directed DEP to issue an Emergency Order urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and SFWMD to take emergency actions to help redirect the flow of water out of Lake Okeechobee south.