This month, Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) appointed a Senate Select Committee on the Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee Basin. The select committee will investigate policies, spending, and any other governmental activities affecting water management in the Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee Basin.  The committee will conduct hearings and prepare a report to be submitted by November 4, 2013, to the Senate Committees on Appropriations, Environmental Preservation, and Agriculture.

“The federal government and the State of Florida have invested vast sums and spent a number of years developing water policies for the Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee Basin,” said President Gaetz. “The purpose of this Select Committee is to determine what progress has been made and what changes in policy, if any, should be recommended to the Legislature and the Congress.”

“Local residents can see the impact of discharges from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon firsthand and have asked members of our local legislative delegation to play a role in assessing the impact of current water release activities,” said State Senator Joe Negron (R-Stuart) who was appointed by President Gaetz as chair of the new Senate Select Committee.

“This Select Committee will give my colleagues in the Senate an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the underlying issues and environmental impacts associated with current policies,” continued Senator Negron. “We will review historic and current state and federal basin wide water management policies and activities and identify options for state and federal action to improve water management, including alternatives for discharges from Lake Okeechobee. I am hopeful that our work will produce recommendations for improved water management which can be considered by the Legislature during the 2014 Legislation Session.”

In addition to Senator Negron, members of the Select Committee include Vice Chairs Charles S. "Charlie" Dean, Sr. and Bill Montford and Senators Lizbeth Benacquisto, Denise Grimsley, Alan Hays, Arthenia L. Joyner, and Maria Lorts Sachs.   The Committee has scheduled its first hearing for August 22, 2013 at 1:00 p.m., at the Charles and Rae Kane Center, 900 S.E. Salerno Road, in Stuart, Florida.