The South Florida Water Management District has sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requesting authorization for the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project (LOWRP).
SFWMD announced the request in an email touting the district’s actions on four projects that are part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.
A copy of the letter indicates it was sent Tuesday, shortly after Florida Politics reported that Estero Republican Rep. Ray Rodrigues questioned whether SFWMD Executive Director Drew Bartlett was fit his job.
Rodrigues hammered Bartlett during a meeting of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee for his lack of action on the project. Bartlett told the panel he needed to discuss a separate project, the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir, before he could send the LOWRP authorization request.
But Bartlett’s answer didn’t line up with statements from the SFWMD board or the U.S. Army Corps, and Rodrigues called that out during a letter he sent to Bartlett last week.
Now that the request is in, the U.S. Army Corps can give the project the green light, which will make the state’s investment eligible for federal cost share credits.
The LOWRP project is aimed improving Lake Okeechobee water levels by increasing water storage capacity north of the lake.
After LOWRP and other projects in the restoration plan are completed, SFWMD expects an 80% reduction in discharges from Lake Okeechobee.