This week, the Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Senator Jack Latvala amended Senate Bill 10. With an amendment sponsored by Senator Rob Bradley, the new focus of the bill is to utilize 31,000 acres of land the state already owns in the EAA, now generally referred to as Parcels A-1 and A-2, and proposes utilizing these parcels for greater storage capacity of water discharged from Lake Okeechobee.  The new version of the bill also directs the purchase or exchange of 3,700 acres of land between Parcel A-2 and Stormwater Treatment Area 5/6, and allows for the acquisition of additional properties is necessary.  It further moves to terminate current agricultural lease arrangements early on some of these lands so the parcels would be available sooner for reservoir construction.
 
Estimated costs of the bill have been dramatically reduced from Senator Negron’s original proposal, although it still estimated at $1.5 billion.  The revised SB 10 also acknowledges the scientific findings that water storage and retention must also occur in the North, East, and West of Lake Okeechobee as well as the South.
 
CCA continues to support the broad effort to prioritize the Everglades and estuary restoration, and continues to support a systemic, holistic approach to solving the state’s water problems, which includes Florida Bay. CCA is especially pleased to see a newfound focus on lands already owned by the state and the proposed expansion of their potential water storage and treatment capacities.  Utilizing lands already owned by Florida promises to provide the most immediate and efficient relief to our coastal estuaries, the Everglades and Florida Bay.  CCA proudly stands with several other advocacy groups who support the latest version of SB 10.
 
CCA also suggests and encourages the Legislature to protect the Amendment 1 proceeds to ensure an appropriate and effective allocation of these funds for their intended use.
 
CCA is currently monitoring a companion bill in the Florida House of Representatives, HB 761, to see what steps they take on this important legislation.  CCA will update its membership on further legislative actions and continue to advocate for the successful passage of sound, scientific and meaningful solutions.