Lawmakers Announce Plan to Protect North Florida Waterways

The Florida Senate Seal
Posted at 5:40 PM, Jan 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-23 14:52:50-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - A group of lawmakers has announced plans to fight for "voter-approved money" to protect waterways in North Florida.

This as the senate president wants to float more of the money into cleaning waters in South Florida.

Senate President Joe Negron recently announced a proposal to buy 60,000 acres of farmland, south of Lake Okeechobee as part of an effort to send more water south, reducing polluted lake discharges into waterways to the east and west.

The plan has drawn opposition from sugar farmers south of Lake Okeechobee, leaders from the Everglades who look to the farmlands for jobs, and some North Florida politicians.

They're all concerned Negron's plan could potentially shift money away from protecting waters in North Florida.

"Other parts of South Florida, parts of Central Florida, and parts of North Florida and Jacksonville cannot benefit from conservation dollars that are sorely needed," said State Rep. Jay Fant, R- Jacksonville. "Florida cares very much about the Okeechobee. We also care very much about the whole state."

Negron's proposal is to buy sugar-industry land as part of an effort to store and clean water and reduce releases from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie Estuaries.

The plan would require a 50-50 funding match between the state and federal government.

The state's portion involves the bonding of $100,000 million annually from the stamp tax revenue in the land acquisition trust fund.