WASHINGTON—The U.S. House of Representatives has unanimously passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2020, which includes a provision authored by U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., that authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a study to determine whether to fund an ecosystem restoration project in Central Florida. The project, if funded, would restore the natural flow of the St. Johns River and lead to improved water quality in Lake Jesup, located in Seminole County. The Senate is expected to approve the legislation soon, and it will then be transmitted to the President’s desk for his consideration.
Murphy’s effort will help restore the natural flow of water between the St. Johns River channel and Lake Jesup, one of the largest lakes in Central Florida, which has long struggled with pollution. The construction of State Road 46 and dredging by the Corps of Engineers cut off the original channel between the St. Johns River and Lake Jesup, resulting in the excessive growth of algae in the lake. Now that Congress has authorized the study to proceed, the Corps of Engineers can include the study in its annual work plan, which Murphy will urge the Corps to do.
“Florida’s waterways are a treasured natural resource critical to protecting our quality of life and our economy. I’m proud of this successful effort to hopefully move us closer to restoring the natural flow of the St. Johns River,” said Murphy. “I’ll keep working to improve water quality at Lake Jesup and ensuring we preserve this area for future generations of Central Floridians to enjoy.”
Murphy’s efforts are consistent with longstanding efforts by the Friends of Lake Jesup, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the St. Johns River Water Management District, the Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and state and local elected officials to develop a plan for restoring the ecological balance of the lake.