Commentary: Three priorities for next session if re-elected

Naples Daily News by Ray Rodrigues

October 7, 2018

This November voters will cast their ballots for state representative. In order to make an informed decision, voters need to know the priorities of each candidate. If I am re-elected to the Florida House of Representatives, I will have three priorities in the next term. Those three priorities are:

1) Reduce the volume of water released from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee River by supporting emergency estuary protection wells.

2) Strengthen Florida’s government-in-the-sunshine statutes to protect individuals from being sued by government agencies merely for filing a public records request.

3) Oppose all efforts to open Florida’s coast to offshore oil drilling.

Everglades restoration

The Legislature has made significant progress on Everglades Restoration. In 2013 we established an $880 million Everglades Restoration Strategies Regional Water Plan.

In 2016 we established a dedicated funding source of $200 million annually for Everglades Restoration and gave top priority to projects that will reduce discharges from Lake Okeechobee. In 2017 we approved the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir Project to build another southern reservoir.

However, despite all of these projects, Southwest Florida’s waterways have been hit hard with red tide, Lake Okeechobee discharges and algae blooms. These Everglades Restoration projects will take decades to complete. We just can’t wait that long for relief.

Therefore, in the next session I will file an appropriation bill for the state to partner with the South Florida Water Management District to create emergency estuary protection wells. The technology behind these wells has been safely used for more than 30 years to dispose of wastewater in Fort Myers, Miami and more than 200 other sites across the state.

These wells will only be utilized when there is a need to discharge water from Lake Okeechobee. They will provide relief from discharges faster than every other potential solution.

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