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Rubio Secures Record Everglades Funding, Critical Water Projects in Spending Bill

Dec 22, 2020 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) released the following statement after Congress agreed to appropriate $250 million for South Florida Ecosystem Restoration, which funds a suite of Everglades projects, including the Central Everglades Planning Project, in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 omnibus appropriations bill. Rubio, a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, previously secured $200 million in FY 2020 federal appropriations for Everglades restoration, a three-fold increase from the previous fiscal year. 
 
“After decades of delays and underfunding, it is clear there is now an overwhelming bipartisan commitment to restoring our nation’s Everglades,” Rubio said. “I am grateful to the President, the Governor, and all my colleagues in the House and Senate for their tireless efforts, and I look forward to working to further advance restoration efforts in the months and years to come so we can finally deliver on these long overdue promises of a healthy, thriving ecosystem in Florida.”
 
The FY 2021 omnibus appropriations bill also includes the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).  Rubio secured numerous key provisions in WRDA 2020, including authorization and funding for critical U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects related to Everglades restoration, beach renourishment, flood control, and environmental protection.
 
“Not only does this bill authorize a number of projects that will benefit Florida, but it includes language to fix the bureaucratic mess that has caused unnecessary delays to the construction of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Storage Reservoir,” Rubio continued. “The EAA reservoir is a critical piece of infrastructure that will move Everglades restoration forward and reduce the threat that harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee pose to our coastal communities. Overall, the Water Resources Development Act takes significant steps to improve Florida’s ecosystems, ports, flood-prevention infrastructure, reservoirs, and water systems.”
 
A detailed list of Florida-related WRDA 2020 authorization is below: 

Project Modifications

  • EAA Reservoir  — Clarifies that the EAA Reservoir is part of Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) and authorizes the Secretary to carry out the project at the full amount of $4,362,091,000.  
  • Charlotte County, Florida  — Authorizes the Secretary to review Charlotte County’s proposed modification of the wastewater infrastructure.

Project Authorizations

  • CERP, Loxahatchee River Watershed Restoration Project, Martin and Palm Beach Counties — ecosystem restoration
  • Caloosahatchee River West Basin Storage Reservoir (C-43 WBSR) — ecosystem restoration
  • C-111 South Dade — flood risk management and ecosystem restoration
  • Fort Pierce, St. Lucie County — hurricane and storm damage reduction
  • Harmful Algal Bloom Demonstration Program — Authorizes the Secretary to conduct a $25 million demonstration program to determine causes and develop effective monitoring, prevention, and response actions related to HABs associated with Corps projects in eight regions, including Lake Okeechobee.
  • Shingle Creek and Kissimmee River, Osceola County —  Authorizes a feasibility study for a project for ecosystem restoration and water storage.
  • St. Johns River and Lake Jesup —  Authorizes a feasibility study for a project for ecosystem restoration.
  • Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule — Directs the Corps to evaluate the implications of prohibiting releases to the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon on the operation of the Lake.
  • Miami River — Deauthorizes 1,000 linear feet at the upstream end of the project for navigation.
  • Julian Keen, Jr. Lock and Dam, Moore Haven — Renames the lock and dam at Moore Haven, Florida, as the “Julian Keen, Jr. Lock and Dam” in honor of a fallen FWC officer.

Policy Improvements

  • South Atlantic Coastal Study — Requires annual state-by-state reporting on the South Atlantic Coastal Study to Congress. Senator Rubio authored this study in 2016, with full funding in 2018, which requires the Army Corps of Engineers to study Florida’s coast and offer recommendations to better protect our coasts.
  • CERP Project Deauthorization Exclusion — Excludes eligibility of CERP projects from inclusion on the Secretary’s proposed deauthorization list to protect them from premature deauthorization.
  • Non-Federal Project Implementation Pilot Program  — Reauthorizes the pilot program for non-Federal project implementation and clarifies the eligibility of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan projects for the pilot program, which is an important step toward allowing Florida’s outstanding local sponsors of projects to assume responsibility for a wider range of work.
  • Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund — Unlocks the appropriation of additional funds for harbor maintenance needs from the current $10 billion balance in Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF), as well as makes changes to better meet the needs of donor and energy-transfer ports like Port Miami and Port Everglades.

Project Deauthorizations

  • Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation — Deauthorizes the Big Cypress Critical Project.
  • Taylor Creek Reservoir and Levee L-73 (Section 1), Upper St. Johns River Basin  — Deauthorizes the Taylor Creek Reservoir and Section 1 of the L-73 Levee within the Upper St. Johns River Basin, Florida.

Expedited Project Documents — Congress urges the expedited completion of ongoing feasibility studies for:

  • Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project (LOWRP)
  • Western Everglades Restoration Project (WERP)