The House and the Senate have now squared away $50 million in funding for the Watershed Restoration Project north of Lake Okeechobee.
Several anglers spoke out on behalf of the project during an April trip to the Capitol. At that point, the House had not yet agreed to the $50 million being allotted in the Senate budget.
Now, with both chambers in agreement, a line-item veto from Gov. Ron DeSantis is the only thing standing between the money and upgraded water storage capacity.
“This project north of the lake, in my opinion, is a very important key to solving a lot of the water issues in the state,” said professional angler Scott Martin.
“It will allow [the lake] to rise slower, and we’ll be able to regulate the water levels of the lake much better.”
Martin was among those who made the mid-April trip. He says the lake’s water levels are not conducive to the health of aquatic vegetation that naturally cleans the lake’s water.
“This project is going to help us slow the flow, protect our coastal estuaries and help bring life back to Lake Okeechobee.”
By allowing water to be stored north of the lake, Martin and others argue, the lake will be able to deal with toxic algae inside it better.
“In fact, 95% of the water that’s coming into the lake is coming from the north,” said Clewiston Mayor Mali Gardner back in April.
“The water quality and the water quantity are killing the lake.”
With that funding now secured in the budget, Martin made sure to thank legislative leaders who worked to secure that money. He also had a message for the Governor.
“I want to thank Speaker José Oliva, Rep. Holly Raschein, President Bill Galvano and Sen. Rob Bradley for their support,” Martin said.
“We hope the Governor can get behind this because at the end of the day we want, and South Florida needs, a good, clean, healthy environment.”
Discharges from the lake can often carry with them that toxic blue-green algae, which then spreads south. President Donald Trump recently visited Lake Okeechobee to talk up other infrastructure projects surrounding the lake.