I’ve Been Working To Address Florida’s Water Challenges
By Marco Rubio
July 7, 2016
Following my visit to the Treasure Coast on Friday to see the algae disaster firsthand, many Floridians are rightfully asking: What are our leaders doing to solve this problem that is damaging their businesses, their local economies and the value of their properties?
Since some in the media haven't fully answered that question, I will attempt to catch your readers up on my progress and efforts in Washington, many of which have been done in partnership with Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Florida).
I have been confronting problems caused by the discharges from Lake Okeechobee for years now. In addition to tours of the affected areas, numerous meetings and conference calls with local leaders and stakeholders, and constant contact between my staff and all relevant state and federal government entities, I have also taken effective legislative action.
Last time I visited the affected coastal communities, one of the top priorities was the deauthorization of the Ten Mile Creek Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area. I passed that deauthorization into law in December of last year.
The second priority was the Central Everglades Planning Project, which would divert some of the discharges away from the coastlines and into the Everglades. For my first four years in the Senate, this was being held up by the dysfunction of the Senate Democratic majority and the administration's failure to produce a required report on time. Once in the majority, I was able to work with Senator Jim Inhofe — a key senator whose committee was the traffic cop for this legislation and who was not initially inclined to support it — educated him on the importance of the project, and it is now included in a major piece of legislation in the Senate that has passed through a key committee and awaits a full Senate vote.
None of these solutions alone are satisfactory. That's why I'm going to continue fighting on other priorities. We will work to get the Army Corps of Engineers to stop, or at least slow, these harmful flows. Should Florida's governor formally request a federal disaster declaration, I will support this action and encourage the president to approve. This would allow the full breadth of federal aid to become available to affected communities and businesses.
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