Scott pledges another $50 million for dike repairs

CLEWISTON — Florida Governor Rick Scott visited Clewiston on Thursday to announce that his proposed budget includes $50 million to help speed repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike. The governor made a similar trip last year. Gov. Scott backs a plan to contribute $200 million in state funds to speed dike repairs by the Army Corps of Engineers by three years. With the additional state funding, the Corps projects the dike repairs can be completed in 2022, instead of 2025 as projected based on federal funding alone.

Governor Rick Scott speaks to some children at the Feb. 1 meeting in Clewiston held on the path at the top of the lake.

“We’ve invested, in the last 7 years, more than $1.8 billion to restore the Everglades and we are going to continue to invest in this year,” he said. “We have made historic progress to store water. We’ve made historic progress to clean water.”

He said his new budget, which he has titled “Securing Florida’s Future,” includes $355 million for Everlgades projects. Part of that allocation, $50 million will be budgeted to accelerate repair of the dike.

“The restoration of the Herbert Hoover Dike is a federal project,” he said. “We have worked with the federal government to do everything we can to accelerate the repair of the dike.”

The governor said he has had meetings with President Donald Trump, who has given assurances that he will be a partner in the Everglades projects.

Governor Rick Scott promises ongoing efforts to solve issues related to Lake Okeechobee at his press conference Feb. 1, 2018 in Clewiston.

“I have been working with the federal Congress to make sure they are going to get the budgeting done,” he continued.

He said Hurricane Irma renewed the concerns about dike safety.

The governor asked those in the crowd who gathered at the top of the dike to continue to pressure their state and federal representatives to provide funding for the completion of the dike repairs and for the Everglades restoration projects.

“Make sure they know the importance of the dike,” he said.

“The urgency couldn’t be more clear,” said Florida Secretary of Environmental Protection Noah Valenstein, noting the lake was above the recommended maximum of 15.5 ft. more than 100 days in 2017.

“We look forward for the department to having a very busy year with projects north of the lake, east, west and south,” he said.

Publisher/Editor Katrina Elsken can be reached at kelsken@newszap.com

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