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Scott signs major water bill backed by Negron

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Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday signed a priority of Senate President Joe Negron that will allow the state to bond money for a controversial reservoir intended to help clean South Florida waterways.

The measure (SB 10) was one of 11 bills that Scott signed into law.

The water bill allows Florida to bond up to $800 million for the reservoir, which would be built south of Lake Okeechobee and is aimed at reducing the recurrence of toxic algae outbreaks that have impacted waterways in Negron's Treasure Coast district and the Caloosahatchee River in Southwest Florida.

Treasure Coast residents blame polluted water releases from the lake for the algae outbreaks.

To make the proposal more acceptable to farmers, residents and politicians south of the lake, the plan was redrawn to lower the costs and the bonding amounts.

Also thrown in were a number of economic development projects in the Glades region, including an expansion at the Airglades Airport in Clewiston and an inland port in western Palm Beach County.

“We are well on our way to putting the harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee into the pages of history, instead of the front pages of daily newspapers,” Negron, R-Stuart, said in a prepared statement after Scott signed the measure.

The bill, which anticipates the federal government agreeing to pay half the costs for the reservoir, caps annual state funding at $64 million, down from an earlier proposal of $100 million, and places the reservoir on state-owned land rather than private farmland in the Everglades Agricultural Area.