EAA reservoir funding awaits Trump’s signature

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S Senate passed the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 Oct. 10, which included the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir project.

The bill will now go to President Donald Trump for approval. 

“At long last the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir is finally authorized by Congress! We are making history for America’s Everglades today. Special thank you to Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio and to the entire Florida congressional delegation for their strong commitment to Everglades restoration and long support of the EAA Reservoir project. Today’s vote comes after thousands of Audubon advocates urging them to protect our waterways and way of life,” said Audubon Florida Director of Everglades Policy Celeste De Palma on Wednesday.

“The recurring toxic algae blooms in South Florida and the 2015 seagrass die-off in Florida Bay tell us our watershed is sick. Implementing Everglades restoration projects like the EAA Reservoir is the antidote the ecosystem needs, and fast action by Congress to get these projects approved and funded is essential to recovery. The EAA Reservoir is a stroke of President Trump’s pen away from crossing the finish line. Help for America’s Everglades is coming.”
 
After urging by Audubon and other Everglades advocates, the Florida Legislature advanced EAA Reservoir in Senate Bill 10 in 2017. State officials planned the project in record timing and then submitted the project for federal approval. In September, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a pre-conferenced version of the bill America’s Water Infrastructure Act, which included authorization of the EAA Reservoir. This historic step by the U.S. Senate brings the project to the President for final approval. The EAA Reservoir will store and move water south of Lake Okeechobee- restoring the historic flow of freshwater through the parched Greater Everglades Ecosystem and into Florida Bay.

U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) have been united in their efforts to get the funding bill through the Senate.

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senators Nelson and Rubio urged the leaders to bring this year’s Water Resources Development Act – which includes funding for a massive reservoir project south of Lake Okeechobee designed to store and clean some of the water being released from the lake before it goes into the nearby waterways – to the Senate floor for a vote as soon as possible.

“The EAA Storage Reservoir is a critical piece of the puzzle for ending Lake Okeechobee discharges and the harmful algal blooms they help fuel,” the senators wrote.

Senator Nelson was able to get the project included in this year’s WRDA bill. Shortly after he and Senator Rubio sent their letter to Senate leaders, Senator Nelson took to the Senate floor to urge his colleagues to pass the bill as soon as possible.

“Right now, in Florida, we are facing a massive environmental and economic crisis,” Senator Nelson said. “If we don’t act soon, I’m afraid there won’t be much of an environment in South Florida left to save.”

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