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Rubio, Nelson Urge Army Corps to Use Supplemental Funding to Complete Work on Lake O Dike
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) today urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to set aside a portion of the $10.4 billion in disaster assistance it received under the just-passed government spending bill and use it to fully fund its plan to speed up work on the Herbert Hoover Dike, which saw its water levels rise to over 17 feet in the wake of Hurricane Irma, and complete the project by 2022, instead of 2025.
Rubio, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Nelson have been pushing for years to secure additional funding to speed up work on the Herbert Hoover Dike.
“As you prepare to allocate the $10.425 billion in disaster supplemental construction funding for 2017 hurricane-impacted states provided by Congress, we strongly urge you to use the necessary portion of those funds to expedite and complete construction of the Herbert Hoover Dike,” the senators wrote. “This new supplemental appropriation will enable you to meet the funding requirements needed to complete this critical public safety project by 2022 … we urge you to allocate the full federal funding necessary for the expedited completion of the Herbert Hoover Dike rehabilitation project.”
Under the Corps’ expedited rehabilitation schedule for the dike, it has expressed funding needs of $212.4 million in Fiscal Year 2019, $242.1 million in FY20, $203.9 million in FY21 and $118.2 million in FY22.
The full text of the senators’ letter is below:
Dear Assistant Secretary James:
As you prepare to allocate the $10.425 billion in disaster supplemental construction funding for 2017 hurricane-impacted states provided by Congress, we strongly urge you to use the necessary portion of those funds to expedite and complete construction of the Herbert Hoover Dike.
Since 2001, the Army Corps of Engineers has invested more than $870 million in projects designed to repair the dike and reduce the risk of flooding for the thousands of Floridians living around the lake. As you know, the dike remains listed as Dam Safety Action Classification I, meaning it is at imminent risk of failure and poses a serious threat to lives and property.
In the weeks after Hurricane Irma, Lake Okeechobee rose to nearly 17.3 feet, creating anxiety for residents and additional strain on Army Corps resources with the need to conduct daily inspections of the southern half of the dike and weekly inspections of the northern half. With the Army Corps’ expedited construction plan, this new supplemental appropriation will enable you to meet the funding requirements needed to complete this critical public safety project by 2022. Therefore, as you begin to formulate a supplemental work plan, we urge you to allocate the full federal funding necessary for the expedited completion of the Herbert Hoover Dike rehabilitation project.
Thank you for your consideration of this important request.