WASHINGTON — Lawmakers are taking a step forward in the fight for Florida’s water quality after President Donald Trump signed a bill Tuesday that includes a possible solution for red tide.
- New law to authorize over $6B for water projects nationwide
- Fla. lawmakers trying to get reservoir near Lake Okeechobee authorized
- Reservoir project to help reduce damaging discharges from lake
As the election approaches, public officials are quick to take credit for this new project.
“We’ve seen the water crisis, it’s the number one issue facing Florida right now,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida).
The new law will authorize more than $6 billion over the next 10 years for projects nationwide. Florida lawmakers are highlighting their efforts to get a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee authorized.
Rubio emphasized the appropriations process won’t happen overnight.
“In Congress, there’s this two-step process — you’ve got to get the money, you also have to put in law the authorization to spend it and as part of Everglades restoration. This is a multiyear project,” the junior senator said.
Both Florida’s senators have urged the Senate to take the bill up for months.
“I am very grateful to my colleague Sen. Rubio for helping, as we have done this together in a bipartisan way,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Florida), who is in a competitive re-election race with sitting Republican Gov. Rick Scott.
The ongoing algae crisis and spread of red tide have become a major flash point in the Florida Senate race.
Gov. Scott continues to face criticism for not doing more to prevent red tide.
The governor signed legislation for the project back in 2017. While he praises the bill signing, in a statement, he added that Congress has failed to properly fund Everglades restoration and called for a 50-50 cost share between the state of Florida and the federal government.
Scott has blamed Nelson for delays in passing this legislation. However, Florida’s senior senator had no control over this. It’s Republican leadership that schedules bills for floor votes.
Adding to the back and forth, President Trump, who said the senator has been no help via Twitter a few weeks ago.
“That’s campaign season — that always happens and suffice to say that (Water Resources Development Act) WRDA is something we’ve worked on here in the Senate. I don’t think there’s a partisan issue here,” Rubio said. “I’ll let the candidates fight out the politics of it.”
The reservoir project is expected to work with other existing projects to reduce damaging discharges from Lake Okeechobee.