[Congressional Record Volume 164, Number 136 (Thursday, August 16, 2018)]
[Page S5676]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mr. NELSON. Madam President, I am here to call on the Senate 
leadership to bring up the Water Resources Development Act, or the WRDA 
bill. It needs to come up soon for consideration because right now, in 
Florida, we are facing a massive environmental and economic crisis, and 
it is so sweeping that it brings up the memories of the 2010 Deepwater 
Horizon oilspill, or the BP oilspill.
  Right now, neon green slime is clogging the Caloosahatchee River on 
the west coast, and the St. Lucie River on the east. I have been to 
Stuart on the east coast. I have smelled the stench of toxic algae 
choking the waterways. I have talked to mothers and grandparents who 
are worried about exposing their children to the harmful toxins, and 
they are concerned about this if they get anywhere near there. That is 
why we wrote to the CDC, asking for healthcare guidance.
  I have met with business owners who have literally had to close their 
shops because of the algae. If they are fishing boat captains, 
obviously, that is what happens. If it is a bait and tackle shop--you 
get the picture. If the stench of algae is so bad in the location of a 
shop--whatever its business--they still have to close. It is not right. 
It is not fair for the hard-working fishing guides, the restaurant 
employees, or anybody who has a business involving our beautiful 
beaches. People enjoying the natural bounty are all being affected 
through no fault of their own. That is on the east coast.
  On the west coast of Florida, our white sand beaches aren't as 
crowded with tourists, but with what? The rancid corpses of fish. This 
is the pufferfish. This is on one of Southwest Florida's beaches. The 
turtles are casualties from massive, noxious red tide. This event--a 
bacteria that occasionally appears in the Gulf of Mexico has moved very 
close to the shore this year. It has lasted for 10 months and counting. 
Hotels and restaurants are half full. Boat captains are facing one 
cancellation after another. Look at this. This is on a beach where 267 
tons of dead fish and sea life have been removed from about 150 miles 
of Florida's world-renowned beaches, and that is just this year alone.
  These pictures are horrifying enough, but go there; it is even worse 
in person. The local governments have spent a lot of money going out 
and cleaning up the beaches. What has happened is absolutely 
heartbreaking. I am a fifth-generation Floridian, and I have never seen 
it this bad.
  I have never seen our beautiful beaches covered like this. That is 
why Senator Rubio and I are pushing so hard for the Water Resources 
Development Act. It includes a critical project to address the algae by 
providing additional water storage for Lake Okeechobee so that the Army 
Corps doesn't have to discharge so much to the east and west.
  It also, very importantly, authorizes a reservoir south of Lake 
Okeechobee, along with stormwater treatment areas, which can help clean 
up the water so that they can send the water into the reservoir that is 
in the St. Lucie on the east. This reservoir is on the west, near 
LaBelle. They can send the water there, store it, start to treat it, 
and then let it go as the natural flow going south to the Everglades. 
This project in the Water Resources Development Act is part of the 
historic Everglades restoration effort that many of us have worked so 
long and hard to advance. It is just one piece, but it is one that 
absolutely cannot wait. If we don't act soon, I am afraid there will 
not be much of an environment in South Florida left to save.
  I urge the majority leader to schedule a vote on the WRDA bill as 
soon as possible, and I urge my colleagues to support the Water 
Resources Development Act when it comes to the floor of the Senate.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Sullivan). The Senator from Rhode Island.