WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed a wide-ranging bill to improve the nation’s water infrastructure, including a Florida project intended to reduce toxic algae blooms that have devastated coastal marine life and emptied beaches.
The new law will help create a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee designed to filter out toxins that contribute to harmful algae blooms that have killed turtles, fish and other marine life — even manatees — and have ravaged South Florida’s tourism-driven economy.
The America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 authorizes more than $6 billion in spending over 10 years for projects nationwide, including the $1.3 billion Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir. The law also boosts projects to restore Gulf Coast wetlands damaged by Hurricane Harvey and improve harbors in Seattle, Savannah, Georgia, and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The law also sets up a new framework intended to increase local input on large water projects run by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Congress approved the bill with just one dissenting vote, by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah. Lee said the measure spends federal dollars on a series of local projects that should be funded and maintained by state and local governments.
Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said the new law helps the economy, cuts red tape and improves aging drinking water systems in communities such as Flint, Mich. […]