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New Everglades Reservoir Bill Focuses On Willing Land Sellers, U.S. Sugar

The Everglades. Photo: Roman Iakoubtchik, Flickr.
The Everglades. Photo: Roman Iakoubtchik, Flickr.

There are new details on a proposed reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee aimed at the toxic algae that muddied Florida waters last summer.

Legislation authorizing the reservoir was filed Thursday.

There are two competing proposals to clean up the water heading to the Everglades. The South Florida Water Management District is planning a reservoir north of the lake.

But the new bill creates a way for the state to build a reservoir south of Lake Okechobee using land from willing sellers. The reservoir is expected to require some 60,000 acres.

Julie Hill-Gabriel of Audubon of Florida says if the state does not acquire the needed land by the end of the year, the U.S. Sugar Corporation must sell its land to the state under a previous agreement.

"This is an action to make sure that in fact this project is moved up in a significant way to help get the benefits that this project provides and get some relief for those coastal communities."

Senate President Joe Negron says he will make the reservoir a priority this session.

The reservoir is bitterly opposed by sugar growers who argue it threatens their way of life. U.S. Sugar did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Amy Green covered the environment for WMFE until 2023. Her work included the 2020 podcast DRAINED.