TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Governor Rick Scott announced today the acceleration of critical repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike surrounding Lake Okeechobee. State funding of $100 million for these repairs was championed by Governor Scott during the last two legislative sessions. The Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) have reached an agreement on a $50 million state investment to fully fund this phase of the Reach I Cutoff Wall Extension of the Herbert Hoover Dike. This project will fortify the Dike in a specific area near Belle Glade. The state funding used to fully fund this phase of the Reach I Cutoff Wall Extension will allow the Corps to immediately focus their resources on accelerating repairs to other critical portions of the Dike. The Governor also directed the Florida Department of Environmental Protection today to work with the Corps to identify how to best utilize the $50 million he signed into law for next fiscal year to accelerate critical repairs. During Hurricane Irma, Governor Scott ordered the evacuation of surrounding communities because Lake Okeechobee had reached critical water levels.

Governor Scott said, “For years, I have fought for repairs to the federally operated Herbert Hoover Dike and we have shown that Florida will stop at nothing to ensure the communities and environment surrounding the Dike are fully protected. These communities can no longer wait for Congress, and today, I am proud to announce that we’ve entered into an agreement with the Army Corps that jump starts the critical repairs we have been working toward. While there is still more to be done, today’s news is great for Florida. Continuing to make real progress in repairing the Dike is critical not just for the safety of South Florida residents, but also for the health of the greater Everglades system and Florida’s coastal estuaries.”

Col. Jason Kirk, commander of Jacksonville District said, “This agreement is another important milestone in the federal-state effort that provides great value to the citizens of Florida and the nation. It allows us to fully fund a construction contract to install 6 miles of seepage barrier west of Belle Glade in Palm Beach County. We look forward to starting this work as soon as possible. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has a longstanding partnership with Florida in our combined efforts to restore the Everglades. State assistance to the vital rehabilitation of Lake Okeechobee’s Herbert Hoover Dike is an extension of the restoration partnership.”

Florida Senate President Joe Negron said, “I appreciate Governor Scott’s successful efforts to work with the federal government to expedite this project, ensuring that we make the best use of both state and federal tax dollars as we work to repair the Herbert Hoover Dike and build additional storage south of the lake through the implementation of Senate Bill 10. An effective state and federal partnership is critical to ensuring communities near Lake Okeechobee are protected and harmful discharges are eliminated.  This successful state and federal partnership has resulted in the federal government agreeing to expedite the timeline for repair of the Herbert Hoover Dike from 2025 to 2022, and today’s announcement is an important step toward meeting that deadline.”

Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran said, “Today’s announcement is a testament to the Governor’s leadership when it comes to the environmental health of Lake Okeechobee and of the surrounding communities. I applaud the hard work of DEO and look forward to seeing these needed repairs completed quickly.”

Mayor of Belle Glade Steve Wilson said, “I applaud Governor Scott for his unyielding commitment to the safety and wellbeing of Belle Glade and our neighboring communities around Lake Okeechobee. The federally operated Herbert Hoover Dike has been in disrepair for years and now, thanks to Governor Scott, repairs are being made to keep families and communities around the Lake safe.”

Last year, during the Special Legislative Session, Governor Scott fought for and secured $50 million in state funding to speed up repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike – becoming the first Florida governor to invest state dollars to expedite repairs to this federal project. Together with next fiscal year’s funding, Florida has now committed a historic $100 million in state funding to ensure critical repairs to this federally operated dike are made to protect the state’s unique environment.

###

 

Comments are closed.