Governor Has Yet to Sign Controversial Bill Affecting Lake Okeechobee Water Management Rules
Treasure Coast - Wednesday April 27, 2022: Friends of the Everglades held a webinar Wednesday urging supporters to contact Governor DeSantis and ask him to veto Senate Bill 2508. It is a controversial measure that they say protects big sugar and deprives the South Florida Water Management District of the power to set water management rules for Lake Okeechobee.
The original bill was watered down in response to a storm of criticism from environmentalists and fishing interests. Even the Governor raised questions about it. But Friends of the Everglades believes its still a bad bill. Eve Samples is the Executive Director.
“Many organizations, including ours, are calling for a veto," said Samples. "About 25-hundred supporters of Friends of the Everglades have sent Governor DeSantis a message asking him to veto this bad bill.”
Gil Smart is the Policy Director for Friends of the Everglades. "This legislation would still make into state law water shortage management rules which favor big sugar, favor big agriculture.”
The South Florida Water Management District has been working with stakeholders for years to update the old rules governing water levels in and discharges from Lake Okeechobee. If Senate Bill 2508 becomes law, the District will have to seek legislative approval.
Friends of the Everglades Board member Dave Preston doubts the District will get that approval. "What they did is they made it state law that the District can’t change the rules. The end result is these rules are not going to change. So that’s my concern as a fisherman who spends a lot of time in Florida Bay.”
"That is what the backers of this bill wanted to make sure was law," said Smart, "and they did it.”
Senate Bill 2508 "benefits powerful sugar cane companies," said Samples, "U.S. Sugar and Florida Crystals, let’s say the names, and the rest of us suffer.”
The Governor has until June 30 to sign, veto, or quietly allow Senate Bill 2508 to pass into law without his signature.
Samples urged anyone who opposes the legislation to send a letter to DeSantis asking him to veto SB 2508 which can be done on the Friends of the Everglades website at: everglades.org.