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Everglades and water restoration for Lake O and other ecosystems

Our Position: support
Bill Number: HB7157/SB392 & HB197/SB594
Legislative Session: 2007

GOVERNOR SIGNED BILLS INTO LAW: SB392 Watershed Restoration and HB197 Surface Water Protection Program

5/2/07: Ordered Enrolled: S392 (7157 laid on table) Watershed Restoration [RPCC]; provides for expanded uses of bonds issued  for Everglades restoration; provides certain requirements before release of funds; creates Caloosahatchee & St. Lucie River Watershed Protection Program; creates St. Lucie River Watershed Protection Plan; expands authorized uses of funds deposited into Save Our Everglades TF; extends period of time in which funds may be deposited into trust fund, etc.
  Amends Ch. 373, 215.619.  EFFECTIVE DATE: 07/01/2007.

5/3/07: Ordered Enrolled: HB197 (SB594 laid on the table).

HB197: Surface Water Protection Programs: Provides for regulation of peat mines in certain wetlands; provides applicability of variance provisions for activities in surface waters & wetlands in Northwest Fla. WMD; provides exemption for certain water quality standards in said district; authorizes DEP & South Fla. WMD to adopt basin-specific criteria under Lake Okeechobee Watershed Phosphorus Control Program; repeals provision relating to permitting of peat mining, etc.
Effective Date: July 1, 2007.

4/21/07: House bill 7157 now in House Policy and Budget, could be heard Monday 4/23/07, the House calendar is on a two hour notice for publishing meetings and bills that are on the agenda.

4/21/07: House bill 197 now in House Policy and Budget.

4/21/07: SB392 was received by the House 3/28/07 and has remained in House messages. The House has taken no floor action with the bill at this time.

4/14/07: H7157    GENERAL BILL by Environment & Natural Resources Council; Mayfield;
  Williams  (Similar CS/CS/1ST ENG/SB392
Compare HB197,HB0535; SB600,SB1474)
  Watershed Restoration; provides for expanded uses of bonds issued for
  Everglades restoration; provides certain requirements before release of
  state funds for specified comprehensive & watershed protection plans;
  creates Caloosahatchee & St. Lucie River Watershed Protection Program;
  creates St. Lucie River Watershed Protection Plan; expands authorized
  uses of funds deposited into Save Our Everglades TF, etc. Amends Ch.
  373, 215.619.  EFFECTIVE DATE: 07/01/2007.
  04/11/07 HOUSE  Filed; Introduced -HJ 00392

3/31/07:SB392 now in House messages & House PCB ENRC6 now HB7157soon on the House floor as well.

3/31/07:  The Senate SB392 is now in House messages and the House Environmental Council just passed ENCR6 out of the Council on 3/28/07. Basically this legislation is funding and planning componetns and timelines for the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers and Lake O. If you are going to spend money cleaning up the Everglades, you need to spend the money cleaning up the waters that feed into the Everglades.

3/24/07: The Legislature is trying to get Congress to step up and fund the cleanup program. The bill that passed the Senate creates a cleanup that now includes Lake O and the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers as part of a regional plan. Our Issue Chairs for the Everglades believe there are some loopholes to meaningful cleanup.

S392     GENERAL BILL by Saunders; (CO-INTRODUCERS) Gaetz  (Identical H 0197)
Everglades Restoration [RPCC]; provides for issuance of Everglades
  restoration bonds to implement Lake Okeechobee Protection Plan; provides
  for deposit of certain funds into Save Our Everglades Trust Fund to
  finance implementation of said plan; extends period for depositing state
  funds into said trust fund; revises fiscal year in which local sponsors
  are required to equally match funds distributed from trust fund, etc.
  Amends 215.619, 373.470,.472.  EFFECTIVE DATE: 07/01/2007.




To learn more about HB7157, was PCB ENRC 6

To learn more about the Senate bill SB392, click here

To learn more about the House bill HB197, click here






More information

To read the Senate Staff analysis on the bill as introduced, click here.







Bill will help restore Caloosahatchee

By Julio Ochoa

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Local leaders are ecstatic about the Legislature’s passage last week of a bill that will provide millions to help restore the Caloosahatchee Estuary, which has been plagued by a variety of water-quality problems for years.

The Northern Everglades restoration bill designates $200 million in the first year and at least $100 million for the next 12 years to improve water quality in Lake Okeechobee and the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries.

“We’re thrilled,” said Lee County commissioner Tammy Hall. “This piece of legislation is the first of its kind that really looks at estuaries.”

The bill provides state money but places much of the responsibility for carrying out the restoration on the shoulders of local governments and the South Florida Water Management District.

The district is up to the challenge, said Phil Flood, director of the district’s Lower West Coast region.

“We all have ideas of how to fix the river, but it takes so much money,” Flood said. “Now we have the funding to do it.”

The bill sets aside $30 million for projects to benefit the hydrology, water quality and aquatic habitat of the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie watersheds. The funding can be used to plan and design a water treatment facility for the C-43 reservoir being built in Hendry County to hold damaging flows from Lake Okeechobee.

Every year, $5 million will be earmarked for projects within the Caloosahatchee watershed. That money can go even further if it is matched by the water management district and local governments, Flood said.

The bill creates a Caloosahatchee protection program, which is designed to reduce pollution that flows into the river, restore the natural hydrology of the river and ensure that the water body complies with future water quality standards. The plan calls for federal and local governments to develop cost-sharing programs and partnerships with the private sector.

The plan should include goals for how much salt water is ideal for different parts of the estuary and increase the frequency of those conditions.

It comes with a construction project plan that calls on leaders to design and build initial water quality improvements by 2012. The bill also develops a pollution-control program and creates a water-quality program.

“We don’t have nearly as much monitoring going on as they do on the St. Lucie River,” Hall said.

The bill received unanimous support from both the House and Senate. Not bad for an initiative that almost never reached the Legislature.

The initiative started as a line item placed in last year’s appropriations bill by Rep. Trudi Williams, R-Fort Myers. The line item set aside funding for an exploratory task force, charged with finding ways to improve water quality in the estuaries. The task force was made up of representatives from businesses, agriculture and governments on the east and west coasts.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush, though, vetoed the line item, and the initiative nearly failed until the South Florida Water Management District stepped up to fund it.

The task force recommended expanding Lake Okeechobee protections to the estuaries. Legislators expanded the protections even more by adding the Kissimmee River watershed, and the Northern Everglades Restoration Act was born.

“Red tide issues and red algae issues will all be impacted by this,” said Sen. Burt Saunders, R-Naples. “We’re going to clean the water that goes into the lake, plus reduce the pulses that come out by slowing the flow of water that goes in.”

After two devastating hurricane years that elevated public awareness of water-quality issues, the stage was set for the groundbreaking legislation, Hall said.

“A lot of times in life, you have to be at the right place at the right time,” she said. “But if you don’t take advantage of it, it doesn’t get done.”

The fact that so many people could come together to make the bill a success speaks to its importance.

“It’s taken a lot of people and a lot of energy and everyone worked really hard on it,” Hall said. “It’s a testament to what we can do when we bring all the factions together.”

© 2007 Naples Daily News and NDN Productions. Published in Naples, Florida, USA by the E.W. Scripps Co.


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