Alexandria, Va. – The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and Keep Florida Fishing® congratulate the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) by an overwhelming 399-25 vote. The bipartisan bill would authorize $5 billion in water projects overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, including $1.9 billion in critical funding for the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) as well as authorization for waterway access improvements and the use of natural infrastructure wherever possible.
CEPP is an important step in improving Florida estuaries and will also facilitate the flow and treatment of water south of Lake Okeechobee into the Everglades system. The U.S. Senate passed this critical legislation by a 95-3 vote earlier this month.
“The sportfishing industry recognizes that it is vital for the Florida Everglades to receive funding as soon as possible to expedite the implementation of multi-year projects that will help fix the water quality and water management challenges that plague south Florida,” said American Sportfishing Association Government Affairs Vice President Scott Gudes. “These projects have been through an extensive review process and will provide significant environmental benefits by moving more water south from Lake Okeechobee. We encourage Congress to conference quickly on a final bill so that appropriations and construction can begin as soon as possible.”
“The Central Everglades Planning Project provisions contained in WRDA are critical to restoring historic water flow in the Florida Everglades,” said Kellie Ralston, ASA’s Florida Fishery Policy director. “The Everglades are vital to the health of Florida’s waterbodies and fisheries, and ASA and Keep Florida Fishing® are very appreciative and supportive of Wednesday’s House action and the strong backing of our Florida delegation on the WRDA bill.”
“These projects will bring much-needed relief to our state’s estuary systems,” said Gary Jennings, Keep Florida Fishing manager. “Florida is the Fishing Capital of the World, and we thank lawmakers in the U.S. House and Senate for recognizing the urgent need for measures that will have a major positive impact on fisheries conservation, ecosystem restoration and water quality.”
In a joint statement, Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and ranking member Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) expressed confidence that reconciling the differing versions of WRDA reauthorization in conference will be relatively easy.
"The strong, bipartisan vote in the House of Representatives is a clear sign that we can reconcile the House and Senate bills swiftly and smoothly," they said.