This week, the Sayfie Review and the Graham Center presented a pre-session forum on Florida’s water Issues with special guests Senator Joe Negron and Speaker-Designate Steve Crisafulli.  The forum was an informal discussion moderated by Melissa Meeker, the former Executive Director at the SFWMD.  

Senator Negron, the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on the Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee Basin (IRLLOB), indicated that he had but one water priority, and that was funding the committee’s recommended projects with a $220 million allocation.  (Those recommendations include long-term projects such as the Tamiami Trail bridge project and the C-44 reservoir and storage treatment area, and short-term projects such as Kissimmee River restoration, C-111 Spreader Canal, C-43 Wet Basin Storage Reservoir and muck removal in the Lagoon.)   Senator Negron also stated that he has called on Florida’s Congressional Delegation to push for federal legislation to remove the Army Corps of Engineers’ sole jurisdiction over Lake Okeechobee releases and to include authorization of the C-43 Reservoir project in the federal Water Resources Development Act of 2014 (WRDA).

A copy of the letter, from the Senator’s press release, can be viewed at the following link:

http://www.fl-counties.com/docs/default-source/pdfs/negron-letter-re-acoe.pdf?sfvrsn=2

Speaker-Designate Steve Crisafulli indicated that he would prefer a more holistic approach to water issues, by addressing not only the Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee region, but also agricultural irrigation challenges as well as issues on the west coast and in the Apalachicola region.   The two legislators took a few questions from the audience and expressed differing opinions with regard to fertilizer regulations, fracking activities, and dispersed water storage.   We look forward to more of these summits, and hearing about water issues from legislative leadership in the future.