Florida lawmakers to talk water funding, not policy

by Rachel Baker on February 26, 2014

There’s a lot of information in this article about what the State of Florida will be discussing in terms of Lake Okeechobee and all the waterways that feed in and out of the Lake throughout the state.

The political waters in Tallahassee, though, are roiling over Lake Okeechobee and other hydrological woes, from Florida’s Big Bend to the state’s signature springs to a treasured estuary along the Atlantic.

Residents, lawmakers and environmental advocates want the state to do more to better manage its water resources. However, the speaker of the House has said no major change to Florida’s water policies is likely to come out of the legislative session that begins March 4.

Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, told reporters earlier this month that any water issues that come up this year will deal with funding, while policy initiatives and long-term water management plans likely will be deferred until next year. His office declined comment last week on those statements and referred questions about water issues to the legislator expected to take over as speaker in 2015, House Majority Leader Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island.

“Most of what we’re looking at right now is project-related, not policy-related,” Crisafulli said.

The projects up for discussion include a cleanup in the Indian River Lagoon and finding ways to store more water north of Lake Okeechobee, which would alleviate pressure on the lake’s decrepit dike and reduce the amount of water released into sensitive ecosystems west and east of the lake, Crisafulli said.

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