Just two days after Gov. Rick Scott asked state lawmakers to dedicate $200 million to repair the aging Herbert Hoover Dike over the next five years, Scott says President Donald Trump has pledged federal support for the work.
While visiting the White House today for the president’s signing of a veterans health care bill, Scott spoke to Trump about the dike and the president committed to “provide the resources” to make needed repairs, Scott said in a news release.
The federally operated dike was built in the 1960s as an expanded form of levees and dams that had been put in place over the previous decades to protect nearby residents from devastating flooding that ensued each time a hurricane hit the lake. It has undergone many rounds of repairs ranging from minor to more intensive.
Speaking to members of the Florida Legislature in a news conference on Monday, Scott said he was “tired of waiting” for a solution to issues stemming from Lake Okeechobee’s nutrient-rich waters, including algae blooms that have plagued the St. Lucie River in Martin County and the Caloosahatchee River to the lake’s west. Scott also noted Monday that he had spoken to members of Trump’s administration about the dike and needed repairs.
Lawmakers, including state Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, have expressed reservations about Scott’s proposal, saying the state should not have to foot the bill for something the federal government should cover.
“I want to make sure we do not spend hundreds of millions of dollars of (state) general revenue funds on what is unquestionably a federal responsibility,” Negron said in a statement issued Monday.
Here are Scott’s comments on his conversation with Trump, via today’s news release:
“Today, I spoke with President Trump on the importance of fixing the federally operated Herbert Hoover Dike and he committed that his administration would help provide the resources to do that. President Trump is clearly focused on protecting Florida’s environment and investing in our infrastructure, and I want to thank him for partnering with us to solve the water issues around Lake Okeechobee by fixing the dike.
“While I called on President Obama multiple times throughout his administration to step up and fulfill the federal government’s funding commitment to fixing the dike, it never happened. Today, President Trump is fighting for Florida’s families and this news is a big win for our state. My goal is for the dike to be completely repaired by 2022, and I look forward to continuing to work with the Trump Administration to complete this important project. With this commitment from the president, I hope that the Florida Legislature will immediately allocate $200 million in the budget they send me to help fix the dike.”