Washington, DC – Two major South Florida infrastructure projects received construction authorization today as the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016. Everglades restoration gets a big boost with the approval of the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) and Port Everglades expansion finally received the green light from Congress after nearly two decades of advocacy. Now that both the House and Senate have passed their versions of WRDA, they must reconcile any differences and pass a final bill. This will most likely occur after the November elections, during the lame duck session.
Once WRDA becomes law, both CEPP and the Port Everglades expansion will be able to seek federal funds through the President’s 2018 budget and Congressional appropriations process.
Also included in WRDA is an amendment, by Frankel, that will allow communities to buy foreign sand to replenish their shoreline. This is particularly important for Dade and Broward counties who want to acquire sand from the Bahamas. Those counties have depleted their useable sand offshore and are now forced to truck in sand at high costs, or fight with northern counties over their offshore sand.
“The Water Resources Development Act is an economic and environmental imperative for South Florida,” said Congresswoman Lois Frankel (FL-22), a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “CEPP is a major step towards directing water south from Lake Okeechobee, keeping the drinking water in South Florida safe and plentiful, and minimizing future algae outbreaks. Port Everglades expansion means thousands of new, good-paying jobs. And South Florida counties will be able to replenish their beaches at lower costs without litigation.”
CEPP is a $2 billion series of engineering projects that will redirect more water south into the central Everglades. It is an important piece of Everglades restoration, an effort to improve the region’s water quality, natural habitats and open spaces, fishing industries, and tourism. CEPP has been touted as an important step in reducing future algae outbreaks like what occurred in the Treasure Coast this year.
Port Everglades expansion will help the port remain competitive as larger and heavier freight ships travel the waterways. It is estimated to create 7,000 new jobs regionally and support 135,000 jobs statewide. Overall, the project is expected to have a half-billion dollar economic impact on South Florida’s economy.
In addition to these important Florida-based projects, WRDA authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to proceed on water infrastructure projects across the country.
Contact: Rachel Huxley-Cohen, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-258-0743