May 22 2014
Washington, D.C. – In a video statement following the Senate’s vote on The Water Resources Reform and Development Act, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today supported the bill for advancing Florida’s interests, but called it a missed opportunity for failing to address efforts to restore water flows to Apalachicola Bay and to restore the Everglades – a concern Rubio expressed separately in a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“In Florida, our water supply isn’t just for our health and our recreation, it affects our agriculture and our tourism sectors, as well as the goal of preserving our national treasure, the Everglades.
“I voted in favor of the water bill today because it takes some important steps forward that advance our state’s interests. But I have a huge problem with the fact that the single most important effort to restore the Everglades – the Central Everglades Planning Project – was not included because, quite frankly, the Obama Administration did not do their due diligence in sending the project to Congress. This is a big deal, and a major missed opportunity. But I remain committed to working towards the project’s final approval.
“I am very disappointed that an important effort to help restore the water flows to Apalachicola Bay was not included in this water bill. I visited the region last year to raise awareness about the Bay’s challenges and the impact it was having on the local and state economy. In the short term, I have helped secure disaster funding for the region to deal with this problem. But we need to eventually have a long-term solution for this. I’m not going to rest, and will continue working towards a solution for Apalachicola Bay.”
A PDF of the letter to Army for Civil Works Assistant Secretary Jo-Ellen Darcy is available here. The full text of the letter is below.
May 22, 2014
The Honorable Jo-Ellen Darcy
Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
441 G Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20314
Dear Assistant Secretary Darcy:
As you know, today, the Senate voted to enact the Water Resources and Reform Development Act (WRRDA). Unfortunately, because of your agency’s inability to approve the Central Everglades Planning Process (CEPP) in a timely manner, the project did not receive Congressional authorization.
CEPP is a vital project to the restoration of the Everglades and, when authorized and ultimately constructed, will allow for waters that are currently discharged from Lake Okeechobee to the east and west of the state to flow south through the Everglades National Park. Not only will this project be a significant step forward in alleviating the concerns of local communities negatively impacted by the current discharges from Lake Okeechobee, it will also be a major step towards restoring our national treasure, the Everglades.
It is unfortunate that the agency could not move forward at a pace that would allow for CEPP’s inclusion in the final enactment of WRRDA. However, CEPP remains as a vital component to our Florida ecosystem and of our state’s water management and I am committed to moving the project forward. Therefore, I respectfully request that your agency move as expeditiously as possible towards the approval of CEPP at the Civil Works Review Board tomorrow and provide a Chief’s Report to Congress immediately thereafter. As soon as you conduct this work within your agency, we can work in Congress to move the project forward to final enactment.
Thank you for your consideration of my request.