U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson has followed Gov. Rick Scott, a potential 2018 election opponent, in imploring President Donald Trump to speed repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee and to fund other Everglades restoration projects. Nelson wrote a letter to Trump on Friday that said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would need about $200 million a year to shave three years off the remaining dike work. The repairs are aimed at lessening the risk of a dike breach and reducing polluted discharges from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers. “This is a critical public safety project, and I encourage you to direct the Army Corps to complete it as quickly as possible,” Nelson wrote. Nelson noted that the Army Corps has spent $870 million on the repairs since 2001 and another $800 million is needed to finish the project by its scheduled completion in 2025. Scott, who has said he’s talked with Trump about funding for Everglades projects, was unable to get state lawmakers to front the federal government $200 million next fiscal year for the dike work. In March, 18 members of Florida’s congressional delegation convened as the “Everglades Restoration Taskforce” to request federal spending on uncompleted Everglades restoration projects, including the dike. Scott is widely expected to run next year against Nelson for the U.S. Senate seat.
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