Funding to Fast-Track For North Florida’s Herbert Hoover Dike Repairs Is a ‘Go

By: Sunshine State News for News Talk Florida
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart surveys damage at the Herbert Hoover Dike after Hurricane Irma

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Thursday it will use supplemental disaster relief funding to expedite repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike.

The Office of Management and Budget will issue $514 million for expedited rehabilitation. These funds are part of the $141 billion supplemental funding package that Appropriations colleagues helped to secure after the 2017 hurricane season and wildfires.

Both Florida Republican Congressmen Thomas J. Rooney, a senior Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, and Mario Diaz-Balart, founder and co-chair of the Congressional Everglades Caucus and a senior member of the House Committee on Appropriations, have been particularly responsible for pushing the Dike funding through.

Rooney’s office says the money will allow the Corps of Engineers to complete the Dike’s rehabilitation by 2022-2023.

“In my own backyard, I’ve seen the desperate need for repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike but getting the money for those repairs hasn’t been an easy task,” said Rooney, whose district covers part of Lake Okeechobee. “For years, all of South Florida has advocated for Washington to take our water issues seriously and it was extremely discouraging when repairs moved at a snail’s pace due to lack of funding. Now Floridians finally have the assurance our waterways can be clean and safe with an end date for repairs finally on the horizon.”

The dike, which is at the heart of the Kissimmee-Okeechobee-Everglades water system, has been one of Rooney’s top priorities in Congress over the last decade. In February, Congress provided approximately $10.5 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers to construct flood and storm damage reduction projects in districts that were impacted by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria as part of the disaster relief package.

Said Diaz-Balart, “Since elected to Congress, I have worked with local and state officials to provide the U.S. Army Corps with the necessary resources to keep the rehabilitation of the Herbert Hoover Dike on track. More recently, I have championed expedited repairs of the dike, and as a member of the Appropriations Committee, have fought tirelessly to ensure the Corps is able to do so. This funding, along with anticipated fiscal year 2019 funding and additional money from the State, will finally be enough to complete the dike’s rehabilitation. The completion of the dike is critical to the communities surrounding Lake Okeechobee, as well as part of the broader Everglades restoration efforts taking place in the Sunshine State. …

“I’d like to thank President Trump, OMB Director Mulvaney, Governor Scott, Senator Rubio, Representative Tom Rooney, and Representative Francis Rooney for their efforts and engagement on this issue. I will continue to work with them to ensure the dike has adequate federal funding to complete the rehabilitation.”