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Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. RIVERA. I wish to thank Chairman Frelinghuysen and Ranking Member Visclosky, along with committee staff, for crafting this legislation.

The Florida Everglades is one of our Nation's greatest treasures. The Everglades' combination of abundant moisture, rich soils and subtropical temperatures support a vast array of species. However, flood control and reclamation efforts in the 1940s and 1950s manipulated the Everglades' hydrology, redirecting fresh water destined for the Everglades out to sea. The ecosystem has changed because it now receives less water during the dry season and more during the rainy season. It is also harmed by degraded water quality, pollutants from urban areas, and agricultural runoff, including pesticides and excess nutrients such as phosphorous and nitrogen which have harmed the plant and animal populations.

The program under the Corps of Engineers' South Florida Ecosystem Restoration will capture freshwater destined for the sea, the lifeblood of the Everglades, and direct it back to the ecosystem to revitalize it and protect plant and wildlife.

However, Everglades restoration is not only about the ecosystem restoration. It is also about boosting Florida's economy. According to a study by Atlanta-based Mather Economics, boosting strained water supplies associated with restoration efforts will save local water treatment facilities $13 billion in the long term. It will provide flood control for south Florida and improve local home values by an estimated $16 billion. Furthermore, a healthier water supply, which will contribute to better fishing grounds, will have a huge positive impact on tourism traffic, which is a key aspect of Florida's economy.

Everglades restoration is a huge priority for the Florida congressional delegation, and I respectfully ask the committee and chairman for their continued support in protecting and restoring this great natural resource and economic engine.

At this time, I would yield to the gentleman from New Jersey, the chairman of the subcommittee.

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