U.S. House passes water resources bill
WASHINGTON – May 22, 2014 – The U.S. House voted in favor of a massive water project bill on Tuesday, and the Senate is expected to follow suit. It then needs only President Obama's signature to become law.
While the projects are nationwide, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) of 2014 approves nine major Florida projects with a combined cost of $1.465 billion, though the total spent could go higher since it relies, in part, on local commitments. The money included in the bill covers different projects, from the dredging of Florida ports to environmental restoration and storm mitigation.
In addition to benefitting the environment, proponents of the bill point to the number of jobs it will create.
"The Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) passed the House of Representatives with overwhelmingly bipartisan support," says Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Winter Garden). "Florida's water resources are a competitive advantage that we must responsibly develop. Investing in our ports, harbors and other water infrastructure will expand our economic footprint, create jobs and help us compete to be the crossroads of international trade for our region."
The seaport dredging projects would allow larger ships, including cruise operators, to visit more ports.
Some Florida observers were disappointed that the bill doesn't include funds for the Central Everglades Planning Project, which would ease the stress on Lake Okeechobee by moving it south and filtering it. However, that project isn't dead, and the bill allows it to be revisited later once the Army Corp of Engineers authorizes it.
Navigation project funding
• Jacksonville Harbor-Milepoint in Jacksonville: $27.8 million-plus
• Jacksonville Harbor in Jacksonville: $362 million
• Canaveral Harbor in Cape Canaveral: $29.2 million-plus
• Lake Worth Inlet in Palm Beach County: $57.5 million-plus
Hurricane and storm damage risk reduction projects:
• Walton County, Florida: $42 million-plus
• Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, Caloosahatchee River: $313.3 million-plus
• Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, Canal Western Project: $87.2 million-plus
• Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetland: $98.5 million-plus
• Broward County Water Preserve Area: $448 million-plus© 2014 Florida Realtors®