Bill Would Speed Up Everglades Restoration North Of Lake Okeechobee
Florida lawmakers are considering legislation aimed at addressing toxic algae by speeding up Everglades restoration north of Lake Okeechobee, in the Kissimmee River basin.
The project includes 80 wells designed to store water underground, using technology that has generated some concerns.
The ASR wells are aimed at addressing one of the biggest problems of Everglades restoration: Where to store the vast amount of water needed to revive the river of grass.
ASR wells allow water managers to store water underground and then pump it back to the surface as needed. But concerns about the technology have prompted a reduction in the number of wells.
Beth Alvi of Audubon Florida says the number could change still as scientific studies continue.
“All 80 ASRs may not go in because depending on the geo-technical studies and so forth, depending on what the soil and rock formations are underneath the area, we may not be able to put in 80. We may not be able to put in 50. I don’t know.”
The project also calls for wetland restoration. It still requires congressional approval. The legislation is sponsored by Central Florida state Senator Jason Brodeur, a Republican.
He says water managers need more control over the water before it enters the lake.
“We want to be able to better control the lake level of Lake Okeechobee. When we have surplus wet seasons and then the dry season and then we may have a storm event, that jeopardizes a lot of the residents in and around the Lake Okeechobee area.”
Other restoration projects are aimed at moving more water south as it historically flowed rather than east and west, where the water can harm delicate coastal estuaries.
The Senate’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee approved the measure earlier this month. The bill next heads to the Appropriations Committee.