WGCU Radio Staff
Thu October 24, 2013
U.S. House Passes Water Bill With Southwest Florida Projects
Several projects aimed at fixing Florida’s water quality problems are on their way to getting approved by Congress.
This week, the U.S. of House Representatives passed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA).
This federal water bill pays for the Collier County Beach Nourishment project and allows the Picayune Strand project to apply for increased funding.
Jennifer Hecker with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida said the bill also authorizes the construction of the C-43 reservoir along the Caloosahatchee River.
She said the reservoir would contain some of the freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee.
“We do not anticipate that it in and of itself will solve the problems for the Caloosahatchee, but it is an important step and part of the solution,” Hecker said.
Hecker said the state needs to do its part by funding projects to divert more water south of the lake.
Even though federal water bills are supposed to pass every two years, this bill is the first in five years.
The $6 billion bill authorizes a lot of important water projects in Florida. However, some projects, such as the Central Everglades Planning Project, were left out because reports weren’t finished on time.
Hecker said there’s an amendment that could add the project while the House and Senate reconcile their versions, but it would be better if water bills were passed more frequently.
“If we could get more timely WRRDA bills in the future, there wouldn’t be such backlogs of water infrastructure projects that are waiting around the country to move forward,” she said.
Hecker said water projects are essential to the state’s economy and public safety.
WRRDA passed in the House with bipartisan support and a majority of Florida’s House delegation voting in favor.