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Historic decade-old Everglades deal dies quietly

The sun sets behind the lock and dam on Lake Okeechobee and St. Lucie Canal. Photo by Amy Green

A decade-old billion-dollar deal in which the state would have bought out the nation’s largest sugar cane producer and restored the Everglades’ historic flow is dead.

The South Florida Water Management District voted quietly to terminate a remaining option of the 2008 agreement in which the state would have bought out U.S. Sugar Corp.

Central Florida water management district board member Dan O’Keefe says the decision to terminate the deal was authorized by a 2016 legislative measure to build a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee.

The reservoir aims to prevent toxic algae blooms by restoring the Everglades’ historic flow. The decade-old deal had the same intent but it was scaled back during the recession.

The Everglades historically began in Central Florida and flowed south from the state’s largest lake. Today the region south of the lake is Florida’s agricultural heartland, and sugar is the primary crop.

In other news, Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Brian Mast are calling on the Trump administration to help speed up construction of the reservoir.

The senator and congressman are raising concerns about an additional study the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is planning after Congress approved the reservoir earlier this year.

Army Corps spokesman John Campbell says the study will not slow the reservoir’s construction.

“At this point we don’t anticipate that this work will cause any delay in the project. Certainly we recognize the importance of this project to the people of the South Florida region and are committed to working with the state to build this project a quickly as possible.”

 


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Amy Green

About Amy Green

Reporter and Producer

Amy Green covers the environment for 90.7 News. She is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a regular contributor for NPR, PEOPLE, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor and many other top news organizations. Her in-progress book on the Everglades is under contract with Johns ... Read Full Bio »

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