TALLAHASSEE, Fla. /Florida Newswire/ — On Wednesday, Fla. Governor Rick Scott announced that the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) have reached an agreement on a $50 million state investment to fund repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike.
This agreement follows a $50 million investment made earlier this year, bringing the State of Florida’s total investment in this federal project to $100 million. After decades of federal inaction, Gov. Scott fought to secure this state funding and secured a commitment from the White House to provide the federal funds to fix the Herbert Hoover Dike.
The funding will accelerate critical repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike surrounding Lake Okeechobee. Once completed, this project will reduce the need for harmful water releases from the Army Corps of Engineers by allowing more water to be stored in Lake Okeechobee.
Also today, at Governor Scott’s direction, DEP is providing $700,000 to Lee County to combat algae and remove it from various tributaries and canals along the Caloosahatchee River. This funding is part of the $3 million grant program through Governor Scott’s July 9 Executive Order 18-191. This grant program will help local governments clean up waterways affected by algal blooms. For the full announcement about the grant program, click HERE.
Governor Scott said, “As our communities once again face the threat of harmful algal blooms caused by water releases from Lake Okeechobee, we are continuing to find innovative ways to combat this serious problem and fix the federal government’s years of inaction. For decades, Congress has refused to fully fund repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike, leaving our communities at risk. I became the first governor in Florida’s history to fund the dike because we have to make sure that our families are safe and that these discharges stop.
“I’m glad that the federal government has finally provided funding to fix the dike, however more must be done. Congress must now approve the EAA Reservoir project. I’m glad to provide this funding to clean up algal blooms and we will keep fighting to make sure that our communities are safe and that our natural resources are protected.”
DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein said, “DEP remains committed to looking for opportunities to partner with local communities to address the impacts of algal blooms, now and in the future. We’re pleased to provide Lee County this grant funding, and encourage other local counties to work with us to take advantage of this grant funding and to help us move forward with long-term solutions, including the EAA reservoir and rehabilitation of the Herbert Hoover Dike.”
Col. Jason Kirk, Commander of Jacksonville District said, “The signing of this additional agreement truly exemplifies the strength of our federal-state partnership and our collective dedication to expediting rehabilitation efforts of the Herbert Hoover Dike and more broadly our ongoing collaboration on the restoration of America’s Everglades.”
Last year, during the Special Legislative Session, Governor Scott fought for and secured $50 million in state funding to speed up repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike – becoming the first Florida governor to invest state dollars to expedite repairs to this federal project. Together with this fiscal year’s funding, Florida has now committed a historic $100 million in state funding to ensure critical repairs to this federally operated dike are made to protect the state’s unique environment.
DEP’s grant funding is provided to help communities provide targeted clean-up efforts to quickly reduce and address impacts to significantly impacted areas, such as marinas, boat ramps and other public access areas. Funding from this grant program can be used for services including containment, removal, cleanup, elimination, transportation and disposal of harmful algal blooms in key areas identified by local governments.
Last month, following a tour of the Caloosahatchee River, Governor Scott issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency in Glades, Hendry, Lee, Martin, Okeechobee, Palm Beach and St. Lucie Counties to help combat algal blooms caused by the harmful federal water releases from Lake Okeechobee. More information on the emergency order can be found HERE. Also, in June, Governor Scott visited the South Florida Water Management District and ordered DEP to take emergency actions to redirect the flow of water out of Lake Okeechobee to the south.