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Rubio Requests Assistance for Florida Business Owners Affected by Lake Okeechobee Algal Blooms

Jul 11, 2018 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C.- U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) requested the Small Business Administration (SBA) quickly open a Business Recovery Center and make agency resources available to small businesses that are adversely affected by harmful algal blooms related to discharges from Lake Okeechobee.
The full text of the letter is below:
Dear Administrator McMahon:
Several Florida communities are once again confronted with harmful algal blooms that could have damaging and long-term impacts on small businesses located near Lake Okeechobee. While the State of Florida, Congress, and the administration continue to work towards meaningful efforts to mitigate and prevent future blooms, I write to request that Small Business Administration resources be made available to those currently being affected. 
Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Glades, Hendry, Lee and Okeechobee counties rely heavily on clean waters and their environmental resources, drawing millions of visitors a year. Unfortunately, businesses in these counties potentially face significant economic consequences from the negative impacts of harmful algal blooms on incomes drawn from fishing, real estate, and tourism. With nearly 90 percent of Lake Okeechobee currently covered by toxic blue-green algae, residents are already bracing for a repeat of 2016 when many of these same communities were victims of a debilitating summer of foul water conditions.  
On Sunday, July 8, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers temporarily suspended scheduled Lake Okeechobee discharges in response to public concerns. The following day, a state of emergency was declared by the governor for Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Glades, Hendry, Lee and Okeechobee counties. Keeping the families and businesses impacted by this damaging algal bloom event in mind, I respectfully request that you use available resources to quickly open a Small Business Administration Business Recovery Center, as was done during similar discharges in 2016, to help Florida business owners cope with this disaster-in-the-making.
Background on Rubio’s Efforts

  • Following Rubio’s July 8th request to President Trump, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers delayed scheduled discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers.
  • In June, Rubio applauded the U.S. Army Corps for including key Florida infrastructure and water projects in the FY18 Work Plan. Rubio helped craft the omnibus bill that made these funds available to the Army Corps. The Senate also passed two Rubio measures to protect Lake Okeechobee communities and restore the Everglades.
  • In May, Rubio successfully secured FY19 funding priorities in the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act.
  • In March, Rubio urged the Army Corps to allocate funding for vital Florida water infrastructure projects, including the Herbert Hoover Dike rehabilitation and Everglades restoration.
  • In the 2018 spending bill, Rubio supported the budget request of $82 million for Herbert Hoover Dike construction and included an additional $180 million in the additional funding pot for Flood Control in the Construction account.
  • In February, Rubio was able to secure funding for Army Corps flood control projects in Florida through the disaster supplemental. Rubio also urged the Army Corps to use those funds to expedite completion of the Herbert Hoover Dike rehabilitation project.
  • In October, Rubio led nearly all members of the Florida congressional delegation in urging the leaders of the Senate and House appropriations committees to provide robust funding to expedite the completion of the Herbert Hoover Dike.