TC PALM: Uncooperative Florida Crystals holds key to Lake Okeechobee reservoir expansion

TC Palm: Written by Tyler Treadway. February 2, 2018.

Whether the proposed reservoir to cut Lake Okeechobee discharges will be enlarged appears to be up to Alfonso and J. Pepe Fanjul.

The Fanjul brothers own Florida Crystals, which owns the land that most logically could be used to expand the project's footprint.

"Any solution to expanding the project has to involve Florida Crystals," said Thomas Van Lent, science and policy director at the Everglades Foundation.

The Fanjuls were among 14 landowners with large holdings south of Lake Okeechobee who signed a letter to the district stating they "are not willing sellers of our farmland to the government."

The state law creating the project also allows for swapping state-owned land either south of Lake Okeechobee or elsewhere for land adjacent to the reservoir site.

Florida Crystals has swapped land with the district before, and environmentalists are hoping the company might get an offer the Fanjuls can't refuse.

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