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Army Corps issues permit for Lake Okeechobee reservoir

The project aims to further clean water efforts in Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has approved a federal permit allowing construction to move forward on the stormwater treatment area (STA) of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) reservoir project.

“I look forward to construction starting as soon as possible,” DeSantis said on Twitter. “The project is not only essential for Everglades restoration, it will also create hundreds of jobs.

A spokesperson for the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) told the media work on the area would begin Monday.

The STA is aimed to be completed by 2023, while the the overall reservoir has a target completion date in 2028.

The EAA reservoir will aim to store water, which can then serve agricultural and urban areas in need.

Supporters hope that will cut down on reliance on water from Lake Okeechobee. Discharges of that water can spread toxic blue-green algae that is present inside the lake. The reservoir is aimed, at least in part, at helping reduce the amount of polluted water going from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers, which have faced major problems with toxic algae.

In October, the Florida Crystals Corporation voluntarily terminated a lease for a portion of the land set to be used for the project.

The legislature OK’d the project in 2017. It’s expected to cost approximately $1.6 billion.

On Saturday, Everglades Foundation CEO Eric Eikenberg called the permit approval “welcome news.”

“We are especially grateful to Governor DeSantis for his persistent leadership on this project,” Eikenberg said.

“Construction of the Everglades Reservoir will mean thousands of jobs for people who desperately need them now. Its completion, together with other projects already underway, will reduce algae-causing discharges by more than half, helping save many more Florida jobs in tourism, hospitality, real estate and recreational fishing in the long run. For America’s Everglades and Florida Bay, this announcement is a welcome lifeline.”

U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney also praised the progress made on the project

“Completing the Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir is one of our major long-term water quality solutions,” Rooney said.

“Now that the South Florida Water Management District has received its final federal permit to begin work at the site, it is my hope that we move quickly on construction of this vital piece of the puzzle for Everglades restoration. The EAA Reservoir will enable water storage south of Lake Okeechobee and reduce discharges to the Caloosahatchee River. The beginning of this project is great news for anyone concerned about our water quality, as the effects of improving the Reservoir will cut down on the harmful algal blooms we currently experience.”

Written By

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to ryan.t.nicol@gmail.com.

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