Oct. 12 2018 11:26 AM

Water infrastructure package to restore Everglades heads to the president’s desk with bipartisan support.

In a resounding 99-1 vote, U.S. Senators acted overwhelmingly in support of water resources on Oct. 10, according to a press release from the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. The House passed the bill unanimously last month, and now the landmark legislation that would expedite restoration efforts in the Everglades heads to the President’s desk for final action.

The “America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018” (S. 3021) takes important steps to advance nature-based infrastructure solutions—like restoring wetlands and dunes to reduce flood and storm damage—that are more cost-effective for the American taxpayer. As previously reported in Irrigation & Green Industry, the bill includes a provision to permanently authorize the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's WaterSense program. The bipartisan bill also improves drinking water quality and provides funding for state and local governments to make upgrades to drinking water infrastructure. The bill also reauthorizes the Safe Drinking Water Act for the first time in 20 years.

“This is the biggest step forward for natural infrastructure that we’ve seen this Congress, and it builds on recent momentum to restore critical habitat and water quality in the Everglades,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “American sportsmen and women should be heartened to see this level of bipartisanship for conservation, especially at a moment in the political calendar when both sides typically retreat to their own corners.”

The legislation advances two critical projects that will improve clean water flows throughout South Florida and supports the development of technologies to reduce harmful algal blooms that infamously killed fish across the state this summer. It will also provide for more advanced research on preventing the spread of invasive species like Asian carp and zebra mussels, whose growing populations threaten many popular fishing destinations.

“The economic benefits of this project cannot be overstated, as Florida’s economy depends on clean water, thriving fisheries and a robust real estate market,” says Eric Eikenberg, CEO of the Everglades Foundation. Improving habitat and supporting predictable fishing opportunities will benefit Florida’s $2.9-billion recreational fishing industry.