February 17, 2017
New bill aims to speed up Herbert Hoover dike repairs
By Alex Hagan
State lawmakers are busy this legislative session trying to figure out a solution to harmful discharges plaguing the Treasure Coast.
A new proposal aims to speed up repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike to hold up to two more feet of water.
Lawmakers have also proposed buying a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee.
Governor Rick Scott is proposing in his state budget to put money towards switching septic tanks to sewer systems.
Jordan Schwartz at Ohana Surf Shop in Stuart is keeping close tabs on Tallahassee.
"Like the idea of fixing the dike. I like the idea of still sending the water south and all has to come together. Septic tanks are part of the problem too," says Schwartz.
The newest proposal calls for the state to match federal funds each year to speed up dike repairs. This could get repairs done by 2020.
State Senator Joe Negron, who has been leading the charge in fighting harmful discharges, sent a statement saying in part: "I am completely focused on securing additional water storage south of Lake Okeechobee to reduce and ultimately eliminate the catastrophic discharges."
Mark Perry with Florida's Oceanographic Society agrees with the Florida Senate President.
"Having that capacity out of Lake Okeechobee so that we don't jeopardize the dike and we don't jeopardize the safety of those around the dike," said Perry.
The Army Corps of Engineers plans to finish the $1.7 billion project to strengthen the dike by 2025.