By Amanda Gordon
A $2.4 billion proposal seeks to fix that by filling the swamp — that is, by directing water south from Lake Okeechobee toward Florida Bay. The idea has been around for a while, but only now is there the political will and funding to get it done, according to Jones and colleagues at the foundation. Bills were introduced in Florida’s legislature this year to buy mostly sugar land south of the lake, and then build a reservoir there to clean water before it’s sent south. The sugar industry has said it will cut into the region’s farmland, eliminate jobs and might not work.
Jones, who last year became a Florida resident, focused on that fight when he took the stage. He praised state legislators who’ve backed the reservoir, including Senators Joe Negron and Jack Latvala, before asking 800 guests to work on Governor Rick Scott and House Speaker Richard Corcoran.
“They need to hear from you — a lot,” Jones said. “It’s about our influence, our bodies, our votes. There’s so much power in this room, so many of us have relationships with these guys, that if we actually came together and told them, ‘You know what? Enough is enough. We’ve got to stop it.’ ”
Jones was presumably referring to the sugar industry’s resistance.
“Contact the governor and speaker and say, ‘No more, you’re not ever going to be in office again, unless you do the right thing,’” Jones said.
Trump, who promised to save the Everglades during his campaign last year after flying over the area, wasn’t mentioned on stage. But Eric Eikenberg, CEO of the Everglades Foundation, said in an interview that building a reservoir should appeal to him.
“The president’s talking about infrastructure projects around the country,” Eikenberg said. “This is water infrastructure, to ensure we have the proper water supply for south Florida. Based on his pledge for infrastructure improvements, we hope he sees this as an opportunity…. read more