Congressman Joe Garcia is pleased to announce that the Army Corps of Engineers will provide $2 million to the Florida Keys Water Quality Improvement Project (FKWQIP). Over the past few months Garcia has been a staunch advocate for bringing funding to the Florida Keys.
This is the first time the federal government has funded FKWQIP since President Obama's stimulus package was released in 2009. As part of the omnibus spending package passed by Congress last month, the Army Corps of Engineers received $44 million in Environmental Infrastructure project funding, for which FKWQIP is eligible.
"The Florida Keys are one of a kind and we have a responsibility to protect them. Updating antiquated wastewater treatment systems in the Florida Keys is one of the most important steps we can take toward preserving our environment and sustaining our economy" said Garcia.
With the responsibility of maintaining these lands and waters, however, comes the financial burden of water treatment standards for Keys residents up to four times more stringent than most any other location. This funding will help offset costs otherwise borne by local communities, in addition to providing measurable improvements to public and environmental health.
Last month, Congressman Garcia spearheaded a letter to Assistant Secretary Darcy of the Army Corps -- signed by Senator Nelson and Representatives Wasserman Schultz, Hastings, Murphy, Frankel, Wilson, Deutch -- expressing support for FKWQIP funding. The letter detailed the project's "short and long-term public benefits including job creation and measurable improvements to public and environmental health," and acknowledged the advancements it has made in water quality standards across Monroe County.
"These waters are home to a National Marine Sanctuary and the only living coral reef in the continental United States, and we must do everything we can to maintain and protect these public treasures" urged Garcia.
In coordination with the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority, municipal agencies, Monroe County and the State of Florida, the Army Corps has provided technical and financial assistance for FKWQIP. Authorized by Congress to receive up to $100 million, this initiative has enabled the planning, construction, and implementation of advanced wastewater treatment systems throughout the Florida Keys and the National Marine Sanctuary.