TAMPA BAY TIMES: Plan for Lake Okeechobee reservoir seeks 60,000 acres for $1.2 billion

Tampa Bay Times: January 26, 2017. Written by Mary Ellen Klas.

TALLAHASSEE — Florida Senate leaders followed through on their commitment to file legislation to buy $1.2 billion of farmland for a water reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee Thursday, proposing a bill to bring the sugar industry to the table in negotiating a plan to end toxic algae blooms that have devastated Florida's coasts, and ultimately bring more fresh water into Florida Bay.

The bill, SB 10, by Sen. Rob Bradley, gives the South Florida Water Management District until Dec. 2018 to buy 60,000 acres of farmland from "willing sellers" in the Everglades Agricultural Area for the purpose of building a reservoir. It sets a deadline for the district to accept bids but, if that fails, it opens the door to the state's exercising its option to buy more than 100,000 acres from U.S. Sugar for the project as was originally negotiated in 2009.

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