Congressman Trey Radel (R)-FL, is optimistic about a water bill that contains millions to build a reservoir in Hendry county. That reservoir could hold dirty, excess water from Lake Okeechobee.
The brownish-looking water has upset Southwest Floridians, and turned off some tourists who've been staying on the gulf beaches.
"That water is brown and disgusting and dirty, and it is absolutely killing our economy," says Cong. Radel in a call from Washington.
"We need to pass the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, known as "WRRDA" here in Washington, and we need the Army Corps to waste no time in building that reservoir for the fresh water releases, and keep that water out of the Calooahatchee River," says Radel.
The federal government promised to budget money for the reservoir more than 10 years ago. But then congress changed its mind and withheld the money. So nothing has happened on the project. The current bill contains nearly 300-million dollars from the federal government, to build the reservoir. The state would have to match the nearly 300-million.
"I am an eternal optimist, and I havwe to push for this. We need that first step. I believe with the help of some Florida democrats in congress, we can get it passed," says Radel.
The bill comes up Thursday in a committee, on which Radel sits.
Others are not so optimistic about congress acting.
"I don't believe it will happen. People have to act locally, not wait on Washington," says Coy Holstein, a boater in Fort Myers.
"We have waited far too long for this to happen. I just hope it does, but even then, it will take years to actually build the reservoir. It is not an immediate fix for this year or next," says Lee Commissioner Larry Kiker.
Cong. Radel confirms, once the money is budgeted, it will take up to 4 years to build the reservoir.