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$700,000 earmarked for Lee County algae battle

By Staff | Aug 1, 2018

Lee County will get $700,000 from the state Department of Environmental Regulation to combat algae and remove it from various tributaries and canals along the Caloosahatchee River.

This funding, ordered by Gov. Rick Scott, is part of the $3 million grant program through a July 9 Executive Order. The grant program is intended to help local governments clean up waterways affected by algal blooms.

Last month, following a tour of the Caloosahatchee River, Scott issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency in Glades, Hendry, Lee, Martin, Okeechobee, Palm Beach and St. Lucie Counties to help combat algal blooms caused by the harmful federal water releases from Lake Okeechobee.

DEP is committed to working with communities impacted by water quality issues, DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein said.

“DEP is committed to looking for opportunities to partner with local communities to address the impacts of algal blooms, now and in the future,” he said in a prepared statement. “We’re pleased to provide Lee County this grant funding, and encourage other local counties to work with us to take advantage of this grant funding and to help us move forward with long-term solutions, including the EAA reservoir and rehabilitation of the Herbert Hoover Dike.”

Scott also announced Wednesday that the DEP and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reached an agreement on a $50 million state investment to fund repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike. This agreement follows a $50 million investment made earlier this year, bringing the State of Florida’s total investment in this federal project to $100 million.

he funding will accelerate critical repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike surrounding Lake Okeechobee. Once completed, this project will reduce the need for harmful water releases from the Army Corps of Engineers by allowing more water to be stored in Lake Okeechobee.

“As our communities once again face the threat of harmful algal blooms caused by water releases from Lake Okeechobee, we are continuing to find innovative ways to combat this serious problem and fix the federal government’s years of inaction,” Scott said in a prepared statement. “For decades, Congress has refused to fully fund repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike, leaving our communities at risk. I became the first governor in Florida’s history to fund the dike because we have to make sure that our families are safe and that these discharges stop

“I’m glad that the federal government has finally provided funding to fix the dike, however more must be done. Congress must now approve the EAA Reservoir project. I’m glad to provide this funding to clean up algal blooms and we will keep fighting to make sure that our communities are safe and that our natural resources are protected.”

Florida has now committed $100 million in state funding to ensure critical repairs to this federally operated dike are made to protect the state’s unique environment.

DEP’s grant funding is provided to help communities provide targeted clean-up efforts to quickly reduce and address impacts to significantly impacted areas, such as marinas, boat ramps and other public access areas. Funding from this grant program can be used for services including containment, removal, cleanup, elimination, transportation and disposal of harmful algal blooms in key areas identified by local governments.