By Tyler Treadway
February 10, 2017
The proposal to build a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee to curb disastrous discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers is now officially before the Florida House of Representatives.
State Rep. Thad Altman, a Rockledge Republican who formerly represented part of the Treasure Coast in the Senate, filed House Bill 761 on Friday.
The legislation is identical to Senate Bill 10 filed in late January by state Sen. Rob Bradley, a Republican from Fleming Island. Both outline Senate President Joe Negron’s proposal for the state and the federal government to equally share the $2.4 billion cost of buying up to 60,000 acres south of Lake O and building a 120 billion-gallon reservoir.
Even before the House version was filed, the plan has met with opposition from that chamber’s leadership. House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a Republican from Land O’ Lakes, has said he doesn’t think Negron’s reservoir would curtail the discharges and doesn’t want to borrow money by issuing government bonds to pay the state’s share.
Both bills direct the South Florida Water Management District to find willing sellers for land in the Everglades Agricultural Area south of the lake by the end of the year. Barring that, the state would have until 2018 to hold U.S. Sugar Corp. to a 2010 agreement to sell its land.
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