Source: United States House of Representatives – Representative Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla)
Murphy Secures Path Forward for Lake Jesup Ecosystem Restoration Project
Legislative win is a big step toward restoring and protecting Lake Jesup for future generations
WASHINGTON—The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 (WRDA), legislation that includes a provision led by Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., that authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to conduct a feasibility study on an ecosystem restoration project that would improve water quality in Lake Jesup in Seminole County.
This is the latest effort to secure funding to restore the natural flow of water between the St. Johns River channel and Lake Jesup, one of the largest lakes in Central Florida, which has long struggled with pollution. The construction of State Road 46 and dredging by the USACE have cut off the natural flow of clean water from the St. Johns River to Lake Jesup, resulting in the excessive growth of algae in the lake.
“Florida’s waterways are among our state’s most treasured resources,” said Murphy. “I’m proud to build on local efforts to restore the natural flow of the St. Johns River in order to improve water quality in Lake Jesup. I will keep fighting to secure passage of this measure in the Senate and to preserve the lake for future generations to enjoy.”
The USACE previously conducted a cost-benefit analysis of a project to restore the natural configuration of the St. Johns River, following a 2001 request by the St. Johns River Water Management District, but the Corps ultimately decided not to pursue the project.
Murphy pushed for a feasibility study to be authorized as part of the WRDA bill recently approved by the House because almost a decade has passed since the original USACE feasibility study was completed and there is reason to believe that the process might yield a different result, enabling the ecosystem restoration project to proceed.
Murphy’s efforts are consistent with longstanding efforts by the Friends of Lake Jesup, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the St. Johns River Water Management District, the Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and state and local elected officials to develop a plan for restoring the ecological balance of the lake.
Information on the House-passed WRDA bill can be found here. Once the Senate passes its version of WRDA, the House and Senate will meet to reconcile their versions of the bill, and Murphy will push for her Lake Jesup provision to be included in the final bill.