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Negron announces plans for water storage south of Lake Okeechobee

cyanobacteria Lindsey PotterOn Tuesday, incoming Senate President Joe Negron called for a massive land-buy south of Lake Okeechobee to address water storage issues. The $2.4 billion in state and federal funding would buy sugar land to create reservoirs to store and clean freshwater. “All the evidence that I see confirms what I'm here to announce today: We must buy land south,” said Negron at a press conference in Florida. 

This announcement was a welcome relief for environmentalists and residents after a summer that saw billions of gallons of polluted freshwater discharged from Lake Okeechobee, leading to massive algae blooms in the surrounding estuaries. The 60,000 acres of land identified is primarily farmland, and owned mostly by sugar companies. The industry response was varied, with U.S. Sugar declining to comment, and the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative releasing a statement about the economic impact and loss of thousands of jobs that would result from this plan.

Negron recognizes the potential challenges with his plan, but believes it's a necessary step to restore the Everglades. “We have our work cut out for us,” he said. “In the world of the legislative process and political process, we are in the persuasion business.”