Congressman Rooney on Lake Okeechobee and Hoover Dike

Congressman Francis Rooney

The rainy season has begun early this year in Southwest Florida, a stark reminder that it is more important than ever to complete the reinforcement of the Herbert Hoover Dike as expeditiously as possible. Unfortunately, even before Subtropical Storm Alberto, the level of the lake was at 14 ft. – 3 ft. above normal for this time of the year. These levels are controlled by the Army Corps of Engineers, and are closely monitored to protect the structural integrity of the Dike and the safety of the surrounding communities.

The Herbert Hoover Dike was originally constructed between 1932 and 1938 after massive loss of life due to flooding caused by hurricanes. It was expanded to its current size in 1960 and now encompasses 143 miles. The Dike has become structurally defective in certain areas and repairs to reinforce the structure have been underway since 2001. They are projected to be finished towards the end of this decade and every year that can be expedited is a potentially lifesaving step. Thus far the federal government has exclusively funded these repairs; however, $50 million each in 2018 and 2019 has been appropriated by the State of Florida to help speed up completion of the work.

Reducing the number and volume of discharges from the lake into the Caloosahatchee River is another critical reason for completing the construction as soon as possible. The adjacent estuaries and Pine Island Sound can accommodate reasonable volumes of water, less than 1000 cfs, but when the lake level nears 14 or 15 feet, massive volumes are discharged into the river, reaching several thousand cfs. After Hurricane Irma, discharges as high as 12,000 cfs were released.

Our tourism based economy is inextricably linked to the marine environment and the health of the Lake Okeechobee Watershed. Clean water is the foundation of a healthy economy in Southwest Florida. There is a $2 trillion economic impact spread across 164 cities and 16 counties in Southwest and Southeast Florida, and
more than 55% of the real estate value in the entire state is directly affected.

I am working to secure the funding necessary to expedite repairs of the HHD many years ahead of schedule so that more water can be held in the lake during times of above average rainfall and hurricane events. For the first time, we have secured full funding for the Dike, $212 million.

Simultaneously, I have been in discussions with all relevant committees of jurisdiction in Congress and the Trump Administration to secure additional funds through the upcoming appropriations process. We are now on track to receive $105 million dedicated to Everglades Restoration Projects. Included is beginning
construction on the EAA reservoir, a water storage and filtering area south of the lake. These funds and projects will provide permanent solutions to our water crisis. Finally, $30 million that we successfully appropriated through an emergency funding bill earlier this year is being used to complete the Picayune Strand project and Kissimmee River restoration (a key component for clean water to enter the lake). I look forward to
providing you future updates.

Francis Rooney is the U.S. Representative for Florida’s 19th congressional district.


Lee County Office
1039 S.E. 9th Place • Suite 308
Cape Coral, FL 33990
Phone: 239.599.6033

Collier County Office
3299 Tamiami Trail East • Suite 105
Naples, FL 34112
Phone: 239.252.6225

Washington, DC Office
120 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: 202.225.2536

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.