Sprinkle list: House allocates $2 million to report on flood controls’ condition
The Caloosahatchee River Reservoir inches closer to being operational.

Caloosahatchee River Reservoir
The study funding is dependent on legislation becoming law with the Governor's signature

A $2 million item on the House “sprinkle list” — those items to seal up the budget deals — would go a long way toward protecting 11 million South Floridians, according to the lawmaker who sponsored the bill that the money would fund.

Democratic Rep. Robin Bartleman and Republican Rep. Demi Busatta Cabrera together filed legislation (CS/HB 513) aiming to get more information on the condition of a flood control system that protects South Floridians’ homes and their drinking water. The bill called for the South Florida Water Management District to report to the Governor, Senate President and Speaker of the House about the condition of the flood control structures, as well as other state agencies.

Republican Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez filed a companion bill (CS/SB 1326) in the Senate, although the House version was the one ultimately adopted.

The nonrecurring sprinkle list funding would pay for the accountability part of the legislation, Bartleman said. The full Legislature unanimously approved the bill, now awaiting the Governor’s signature.

The House and the Senate get millions in tax revenue to play with near the end of budget negotiations. That money is spread across different projects in what’s known in legislative parlance as the “sprinkle list.”

Bartleman was thankful and excited to find the funding on the list.

“We need this study done as soon as possible to protect the 11 million people in South Florida — to protect their homes, their businesses, to protect the aquifer and assure insurers that we are on the road now to addressing these issues,” Bartleman said. “Without the money, we were at a standstill.”

Bartleman noted that a third of Florida’s economy depends on South Florida.

“We need to make sure that we’re protected, and we don’t flood,” she said. Of the funding, she said, “I’m so grateful.”

The legislation was introduced because of the gates that keep the water from flooding are aging. Bartleman said 18 of the gates in the Central Florida & South Florida System are within 6 inches of design failure.

“Having accurate information will be our first step,” Bartleman said, when the bill was filed.

The flood control facilities are the property of the federal government, but it has been slow to act, Bartleman said.

Putting the issue front and center is important, Busatta Cabrera said at the time the bill was introduced.

“We must ensure that updates to the system are understood and prioritized to preserve the economic vitality of the community,” she said.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


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