Everglades Restoration Memorial Passes House Committee

By: Allison Nielsen | Posted: March 21, 2014 11:20 AM
St. Lucie Lock

St. Lucie Lock

A Memorial proposed by Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, made its way through the House State Affairs Committee on Friday.

Harrell’s Memorial, House Memorial 607, is a nonbinding, declarative message that would call on Congress to authorize the next phase of Everglades restoration.

“[HM 607] urges Congress to pass the Water Resource Development Act,” said Harrell on Friday. “We really want the federal government to be our 50/50 partner … as [the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan] provides.”

Last year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-mandated freshwater discharges from Lake Okeechobee promoted algae blooms and accelerated toxins in the Indian River Lagoon and St. Lucie waterways.

The Corps began releasing water from the lake in May after a record-setting start to the rainy season, which resulted in lake levels rising past 16 feet above sea level.

As the lake rises, the Corps’ concern for the aging dike around the lake and the safety of communities on the lake’s shore grows. The 143-mile Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake O was constructed in the 1930s, but now is in such disrepair that it’s ranked among the dikes most likely to fail in the U.S.

The higher the water level, the more pressure is placed on the already weak dike.

As the rains increased, the lake rose -- and so did the releases. Billions of gallons of fresh water were released into the estuary, which supports a delicate ecosystem. With the overflow of fresh water came lowered levels of salinity.

Oysters, sea grasses and other wildlife calling the estuary their home began dying.

Harrell’s Memorial would include the Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands, the C-111 Spreader Canal, the Broward County Water Preserve Area, the Caloosahatchee River C-43 West Basin Storage Reservoir, and the Central Everglades Planning Project.

Restoring these areas would help to discharge lake water into the Everglades instead of into the St. Lucie River and Caloosahatchee River estuaries, according to Harrell.

Harrell also vowed to push Congress to increase annual appropriations for rehabilitation of the Herbert Hoover Dike to “accelerate project completion.”

Per the Memorial’s conclusion, copies of it have been sent to President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner and all members of the Florida delegation to Congress.

Reach Tampa-based  reporter Allison Nielsen at or follow her on Twitter at @AllisonNielsen. 

Comments (2)

Ted Guy
1:16PM MAR 22ND 2014
All those proposals are only projected to reduce discharges by 210,000 acre feet, a drop in the bucket compared to what is necessary. They're good, but won't anywhere near eliminate the "bombs" to our estuaries.
10:00AM MAR 22ND 2014
Ah, yes . . . . a legislative memorial . . . . those say little, and do nothing pieces, of usually partisan spin pieces of legislation, developed and worked on by your legislators, rather than spend your paid-for time on the people's business . . . .

This particular Memorial is basically innocuous, and probably won't even annoy the ACOE . . . . if SSN is going to waste its "news" space and time reporting on legislative Memorials, why not spend some time on the many hair-brain GOP Memorials like Rep. Eagle's HM 1425 . . . . . a memorial based on the fantasyland premise that the United Nations is threatening to take over the sovereignty of Florida and the U.S. through Agenda 21 --> "WHEREAS, the tenets of Agenda 21 threaten the sovereignty of the State of Florida" . . . . . .

GOP conspiracy theories . . . . like many of their views on science, women's bodies, and voter suppression . . . . . . . absolutely . . . .

Pathetic . . . . .

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