Florida Senators approved Senate Bill 2508 in a vote of 37 to 2.
According to WPTV News, the bill determines the fate of the Lake Okeechobee water management plan.
Opponents said the bill was first written to upend the Lake Okeechobee water management plan by the Army Corps of Engineers. According to WPTV News, there are concerns about increased water discharges down the St. Lucie River as a result. Supporters of SB 2508 include the city of West Palm Beach, which was motivated by concerns about its drinking water supply and the sugar industry.
The bill is sponsored by Senator Ben Albritton, R-Bartow. According to Bartow, there would be funding for the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir project, which controls water levels in the lake.
According to Bartow, the EAA Reservoir project will not be affected and algae would not be released into the St. Lucie River as a result of the bill.
According to Eve Samples, executive director of Friends of the Everglades, the organization is questioning a provision that would give public utilities the authority to expedite wetland dredge and fill projects and write 2007 rules on low water management into state law, reported WPTV News.
"These water shortage rules, that really protect big sugar and other agricultural water users, would be protected in state law itself, and that can harm the environment," said Samples, reported WPTV News.
One of the two no votes was from Gary Farmer, D-Fort Lauderdale.
"I'm still trying to digest it all," said Farmer, reported WPTV News. "It is so complicated. While the worst parts of this bill were removed with the amendment filed on Wednesday, many concerning components still remain. We just have to wonder what's motivating this, and who's behind it."
The governor's office is still discussing the bill as it now moves on to the House and would need a signature from the governor before it could become law.