Senate Bill 10, filed on January 26, 2017, is the result of Senate President Joe Negron’s plan, announced last August to purchase land south of Lake Okeechobee for the EAA Reservoir, which will eliminate or dramatically reduce the horrific discharges to both coasts of Florida and return a flow for freshwater to be cleaned and sent south to a dehydrated Everglades and collapsing Florida Bay.
The bill was filed by Senator Rob Bradley, Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources. It directs the South Florida Water Management District to begin the formal process of purchasing land from willing sellers in the Everglades Agricultural Area. If the District is unable to identify sellers of land appropriate for a Reservoir through an open solicitation by the end of 2017, the legislation authorizes the Board of Trustees (Governor and Cabinet) to exercise the option with U.S. Sugar entered into in 2010 to buy 153,000 acres of land in the EAA, for the purpose of securing the 60,000 acres necessary for the reservoir and to begin planning the construction of the reservoir. It directs the State to surplus any land not needed for the Reservoir. And it provides for the funding mechanism to move the project forward.
Senate Bill 10 is the first step in what Everglades Trust believes will be the strongest ever legislative session for Everglades restoration. Senator Negron’s plan is the only solution to Florida’s environmental crises supported by more than 200 independent scientists. The combined work of Senate President Negron and Senator Robert Bradley represents not only the interests of the people of Florida, the environment and the Florida economy, but also a shift in power from the corporate interests that have controlled Everglades restoration legislation, to the detriment of all for decades.