Rooney-Requested Funding Fast-Tracks Completion of Herbert Hoover Dike Repairs
On Thursday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it would use supplemental disaster relief funding to expedite repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike, a direct result of funding requests from Congressman Thomas J. Rooney (R-FL), a senior Republican on the House Appropriations Committee.
“In my own backyard, I’ve seen the desperate need for repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike but getting the money for those repairs hasn’t been an easy task,” said Rooney, whose district covers part of Lake Okeechobee. “For years, all of South Florida has advocated for Washington to take our water issues seriously and it was extremely discouraging when repairs moved at a snail’s pace due to lack of funding. Now Floridians finally have the assurance our waterways can be clean and safe with an end date for repairs finally on the horizon.”
The dike, which is at the heart of the Kissimmee-Okeechobee-Everglades water system, has been one of Rooney’s top priorities in Congress over the last decade. In February, Congress provided approximately $10.5 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers to construct flood and storm damage reduction projects in districts that were impacted by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria as part of the disaster relief package.
The $514 million provided through supplemental funding – in conjunction with the $96 million included in the House’s Fiscal Year 2019 Energy and Water Appropriations bill – will allow the Army Corps of Engineers to complete the Herbert Hoover Dike’s rehabilitation by 2022-2023.
Thursday’s announcement comes at a crucial time for the dike, which is currently rated as “critically near failure.” Reports issued by the Corps have determined in any given year, the chance of a dike failure is one in six. Other studies have concluded that catastrophic failure would cause significant loss of lives, impact millions of Floridians and result in economic losses totaling tens of billions of dollars.
“Floridians have a unique understanding and appreciation for our waterways, and all of us in South Florida know how critical the dike is to our daily lives,” Rooney said. “Compelling the Army Corps to prioritize funding for the Herbert Hoover Dike shouldn’t have to be constant battle, which is why I am grateful they’ll be using this funding to fast-track repairs to the dike. A decade-long battle is finally over and our work has finally paid off.”
In addition to securing funding to repair the dike in annual Appropriations bills, Rooney also introduced legislation to allow Members of Congress to directly fund Army Corps projects and pitched an idea to give Congress greater control over water projects through a change to House rules.