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Panel Pitches $200 Million Plans To Clean Up Lake Okeechobee System

David Miller
green algae bloom in the St. Lucie River, August 2013

A state legislative panel has come up with a multi-point plan for cleaning up Central Florida’s polluted water bodies. Issues in the Lake Okeechobee basin arose earlier in the summer as polluted water from the lake was released into surrounding systems.

The panel says it plans to ask the Florida Legislature for more than $200 million  for a series of water projects in the area. Those projects include building new routes for water to flow through, as well as continued efforts to clean up the Florida Everglades and its accompanying systems. But some say  there need to be changes at the federal level as well:

“I like to be able to vote for or against people who can raise my taxes or lower my taxes, make decisions that affect my life and make decisions on when to flood my community with water," said state Senator Joe Negron ( R-Stuart).  "At least if we have it at the Department of Environmental Protection, which reports to the Governor, I believe as citizens we have a greater opportunity to have our voices heard.”   

Negron wants the Army Corps of Engineers, which some argue triggered this summer’s toxic algae blooms and animal deaths when it released polluted water from Lake Okeechobee into surrounding water bodies—to give up that control to the state.  In order for that to happen, the federal government has to approve.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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