Keep Florida Fishing Applauds Congressional Passage of Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act

KFF_Logo_Hi-Res_CMYK_FINAL-With-MarkEverglades Restoration Legislation Moves to the President’s Desk

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Keep Florida Fishing today praised lawmakers in the U.S. House and Senate for their passage of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act, which authorizes funding for water projects around the nation, including $1.95 billion for the crucial Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) and $113 million for Picayune Strand water flow restoration in Collier County. CEPP is an important step toward facilitating the flow and treatment of water south of Lake Okeechobee into the Everglades, reducing the need for water releases to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuary systems that have resulted in extensive habitat and fisheries damages.

The WIIN Act is the result of bicameral negotiations, combining portions of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) bills that passed through the House and Senate in September. The bill received bipartisan support from the entire Florida Congressional delegation, with all voting members supporting the WIIN Act.

“Thank you in particular to Senators Nelson and Rubio and the Florida House delegation for recognizing the need for projects supporting Everglades restoration and waterway access,” said Kellie Ralston, ASA’s Florida Fishery Policy Director. “The Central Everglades Planning Project and the restoration of Picayune Strand contain key strategies that will help restore the Everglades’ historic southerly flow of water, which will in turn improve Florida fisheries and wildlife habitat.”

“The Everglades are an integral part of Florida’s identity, contributing to our state’s role as the ‘Fishing Capital of the World,” said Gary Jennings, Keep Florida Fishing Manager. “We are pleased that these restoration projects are moving forward and will be implemented once appropriations are provided. A healthy Everglades is essential to making sure that Florida’s anglers have access to clean waters and abundant fisheries.”

While the inclusion of Everglades restoration projects was a huge win for the state, a lesser known provision was removed that could place Florida at a disadvantage in its current negotiations with Georgia and Alabama over water supply to the Apalachicola River.

“Congress should remain poised to act if an acceptable agreement on water sharing cannot be reached between the three states, and the removal of this commitment is deeply concerning. The health of north Florida waters and fisheries hang in the balance,” said Kellie Ralston.

The WIIN Act will now move to President Obama’s desk for his signature.