Congressman Francis Rooney’s statement on meeting with Army Corp of Engineers
Washington, D.C.- This week, Congressman Rooney met with Colonel Jason Kirk, District Commander of the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), regarding the Herbert Hoover Dike (HHD) and releases from Lake Okeechobee. Unfortunately, even before Subtropical Storm Alberto, the level of the lake was at 14 ft. – 3 ft. above normal for this time of the year. These levels are controlled by the Army Corps of Engineers, and are closely monitored to protect the structural integrity of the Dike and the safety of the surrounding communities. The good news is that the USACE has now reduced releases to less than 3000 cfs even though water levels have continued to rise in the lake, and they are working with state and local officials to move water south.
Congressman Rooney stated, “Colonel Kirk and his team have been great partners in finding ways to reduce discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee River. Moving water south by using existing structures and temporary pump stations is critical to the health of our Southwest Florida environment and economy.
“I am working to secure the funding necessary to expedite repairs of the HHD many years ahead of schedule so that more water can be held in the lake during times of above average rainfall and hurricane events. For the first time, we have secured full funding for the dike, $212 million.
“Simultaneously, I have been in discussions with all relevant committees of jurisdiction in Congress and the Trump Administration to secure additional funds through the upcoming appropriations process. We are now on track to receive $105 million dedicated to Everglades Restoration Projects. Included is beginning construction on the EAA reservoir, a water storage and filtering area south of the lake. These funds and projects will provide permanent solutions to our water crisis.
“Finally, $30 million that we successfully appropriated through an emergency funding bill earlier this year is being used to complete the Picayune Strand project and Kissimmee River restoration (a key component for clean water to enter the lake). I look forward to updating you further throughout the summer.”