After stressing fiscal restraint in his first year in office, Scott found his voice on environmental causes and guided state money into Everglades restoration while negotiating land deals to clear up litigation and clean up the water. Along the way, he has goaded federal officials to upgrade the Hoover dike and pay their share of other water projects.
On Tuesday, Scott complained about the Corps’ decision to open the floodgates at the Hoover dam, which has dumped millions of gallons of polluted water into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries. That led to fish kills “and will undoubtedly impact the regional economy,” he told Corps officials in a letter.
Scott urged the Corps to enhance the dike system and spend $1.6 billion on South Florida environmental projects -- “which you owe the state,” a refewrence to the nearly 10-year-old agreement to split restoration costs equally between Florida and the feds. He said it should come in the form of bloc grants so the state and local partners can design and build those projects.
Scott said the state already has invested more than $2.5 billion in South Florida projects and the feds only about $989 million. “Too often, Florida families have footed the bill for the federal portion of these projects,” he wrote.
The governor also announced a $40-million state commitment to speed up completion of the C-44 Storm Water Treatment Area project. The project will clean diverted water from Lake Okeechobee and storm water runoff year-round.
Some federal officials and members of Congress have acknowledged that Uncle Sam has been slow to pay its share of the 50-50 split for Everglades restoration, largely because of controversies that held up passage of a Water Resources Development Act that authorizes spending on projects around the country.
Scott’s letter reflected a growing impatience with the federal response and an attempt by the governor to look after the state’s interests even while attacking federal spending in general. It was sent the same day he toured a section of the St. Lucie River with state Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart.