Emergency money requested to repair Lake Okeechobee dike

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, filed legislation last week to expedite repairs on the Herbert Hoover Dike surrounding Lake Okeechobee.

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Murphy, who filed the proposal with U.S. Rep. Curt Clawson, R-Bonita Springs, said the bill calls for $800 million to make repairs to the dike so that more water can be stored in the lake.

Read: Locals press feds for fixes to Lake Okeechobee dike. 

Record rainfall earlier this year pushed the lake level to 16 feet above sea level. That forced the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to start releasing billions of gallons of fresh water into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries.

The fresh water is harmful for marine life that thrives in brackish estuary water.

“For decades the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers have suffered from damaging discharges from Lake Okeechobee, and unfortunately, this year is no different,” Murphy said in a press release. “By increasing the water storage capacity within the lake, we can reduce the need for these harmful discharges.”

A Palm Beach Post story that ran Monday notes that Florida U.S. Sen Bill Nelson’s office said this month he has asked for more than last year’s $64.1 million.

But an appropriation bill that passed a committee on April 14 “provides only the $49.5 million that the president had requested in this year’s budget request,” Nelson spokesman Ryan Brown said. “So right now Nelson is looking at other possible options to increase funding for the dike.”

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