Good news for the St. Lucie Estuaryby Christine Stapleton | March 4th, 2014
Good news for the St. Lucie Estuary came from Washington today: Deep in the 2015 budget proposed by President Obama is a line-item in the budget for the Army Corps of engineers that sets aside about $35 million for the C-44 Project.
U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy announced the proposed funding at a press conference this afternoon.
“This isn’t a guarantee that the full amount wil be there but it’s a really good indication,” Murphy said. “To get a line item – something specific in the Army Corps work plan is a big deal.”
The project in western Martin County got underway in 2011 is intended to clean runoff before sending it to the St. Lucie Estuary. The Corps is responsible for building the $225 million-plus project, which includes a 3,400-acre reservoir. The completion date is 2020.
Water quality and quantity in the C-44 Canal – which runs from Lake Okeechobee to the coast – grabbed headlines last summer when record-setting rains forced the Army Corps to release water from the lake to prevent a breach in its ailing dike. The water from the lake coupled with runoff from local roads, farms and yards, caused an ecological disaster in the estuary.
The ecological crisis turned political in August when Gov. Rick Scott, fed up with the Corps’ pace on the project, announced that rather than waiting for the corps to come up with $30 million for its share of the project, Florida will pay the entire cost.
However, just because the $35 million line item is in the President’s budget does not mean the money is guaranteed, Murphy said. The budget must now make its way through committees during budget appropriation process, Murphy added.