New Federal Law Holds Great Promise for Florida’s Water

My company (Environmental Risk Management) has two parallel purposes: to protect property owners, and to protect Florida’s natural resources. Those dual roles keep us constantly on the lookout for changes in environmental polices at every level.

Recently, a major piece of Federal legislation was signed into law that may not have received widespread media coverage, but is definitely worth calling to your attention, because it has great implications for our state.

It is America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA), signed by the president on October 23, incorporating a reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).

What makes this development so important is that it will finally pave the way for the construction of the Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir covering more than 10,000 acres south of Lake Okeechobee. This new reservoir will help reduce the discharges that in years past have sent huge volumes of untreated water gushing east and west through the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers.

Moreover, the reservoir will allow for more gradual, natural sheet flow of water from Lake Okeechobee through thousands of acres of marshland that help “filter” that water as it eventually makes it way into the Biscayne Aquifer (the lifeline for south Florida population centers).

This is particularly good news for the goal of Everglades Restoration—a topic I’ve written and spoken about repeatedly in recent years.

I’d say this is also an example of government functioning properly. After all, it was a bipartisan effort, supported by diverse constituencies ranging from fishermen and real estate developers to environmentalists and local governments, and it resulted in funding for projects that benefit our cities, our waterways, and our wildlife.

While the AWIA certainly won’t remedy all of Florida’s environmental challenges, it is finally going to bring significant improvements to areas that have needed help for a very long time.