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In Ft. Myers, Rubio Highlights Everglades Project As Vital To Dealing With Florida’s Water & Algae Problems

Jul 18, 2016 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today visited local officials in Fort Myers to discuss the Lake Okeechobee releases and their effects on the Caloosahatchee River. In a media availability following the meeting, Rubio reiterated the importance of getting the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) authorized as part of the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (WRDA), and said decreasing the amount of water released into the lake could help alleviate problems in the short-term.
 
“The single biggest thing we can do to improve this situation is called the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP). It’s been hanging around for a long time without getting done,” Rubio said. “A couple months ago, I was able to convince the chairman of that committee, Senator Inhofe (R-OK), to finally agree to do it. It’s in the water bill and our work is all focused on getting a vote and passage of it in September. It would not be the final step, but it would be the single biggest step taken on this issue in almost two decades.
 
“The immediate solution is one of the things that is happening now. It’s not a total solution, but it’s the ability and extent possible to release less water than what’s being released now,” Rubio continued. “So that’s why it was so important that the Governor declared a state of emergency because it allowed him to use some of the land they’ve already purchased north of the lake to hold more water north. That means there’s less water going into the lake, and as a result, less water coming out but that doesn’t solve the problem.”
 
Because of Rubio’s advocacy efforts, the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) was included in S.2848, the 2016 Water Resources Development Act, which passed in the Senate’s Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee in late April. Passing in committee is the farthest along in the legislative process that the CEPP has been since it was first proposed by the Army Corps of Engineers. Then earlier this month, Rubio urged Senate Republican leadership to allow WRDA to come for a vote on the Senate floor.
 
A partial transcript of Rubio’s remarks is below:
 
Senator Marco Rubio: “The Central Everglades Planning Project will allow the engineers and the experts to go out and actually begin to do the necessary work like the architectural engineering plans to actually build more of this retention capability and set up the transfer plan. We have 15,000 acres of sugar land south of Lake Okeechobee that’s part of that transfer.
 
“Then you have to go back to Congress and get the money to pay for it, and that will be step two. But you have to do step one and even step one, just the simple planning part of it, has taken forever, much longer than the time I have been in the Senate.
 
“We are closer than we have ever been to getting it done and now it’s part of the water bill. We have to get that done in September otherwise there’s going to be another year of waiting.”
 

 
Rubio On The Urgency And Impact On Residents, Businesses:
 
“We understand, and that’s why there’s a sense of urgency about moving forward on this. We’ve got to start getting people results on this and this has been going on for a long time. This whole debate began when I was still in college. It’s been 20 years and nothing substantial has happened on this magnitude. Again, in September, we will be as close as we’ve been in a long time to taking a major step forward, but it can’t be the last step. There are other things we want to come as a result of it, but we want to get that done in September and hopefully we can rally the necessary support to get that vote.”
 

 
Rubio On An Immediate Solution:
 
“The immediate solution is one of the things that is happening now and it’s not a total solution, but it’s the ability and extent possible to release less water than what’s being released now. So that’s why it was so important that the Governor declared a state of emergency because it allowed him to use some of the land they’ve already purchased north of the lake to hold more water north. That means there’s less water going into the lake, and as a result, less water coming out but that doesn’t solve the problem.”