Congressman has controversial plan for water runoff

On Behalf of | Apr 28, 2016 | eminent domain

A Florida congressman has proposed a federal solution for a water overflow problem in the Everglades. However, some critics say that the plan, which will have to rely on eminent domain, won’t actually solve the problem. The issue revolves around Lake Okeechobee, a lake that overflowed in the 1920s in a storm that killed over 2,000 people.

After the devastating flood in the 1920s, President Herbert Hoover began building a dike around Lake Okeechobee that was later called Herbert Hoover Dike. The dike helps to prevent flooding from heavy rains by holding excess water, and a series of canals funnel excess water from the lake into the ocean. Passageways on the eastern and southwestern parts of the lake are also used to release excess water, but this water runoff produces harmful algae blooms that damage the ecosystem and negatively impact the state’s fishing and tourism industries.

Although many people agree that the excess water from Lake Okeechobee must be collected before it can hurt the environment, the method for collecting it is disputed. Rep. Curt Clawson wants to construct a $500 million reservoir on the south part of the lake to hold the water. In order to build the reservoir, the federal government would need to use eminent domain to take land from private owners that have productive farmlands in that area. Florida environmental specialists have argued that a reservoir should actually be built at the north part of the lake.

Many landowners think that they have no defense against the taking of their land once the federal government has decided to use eminent domain. In reality, many landowners have fought for and kept their properties after threats of eminent domain actions. A real estate law attorney may be able to help landowners protect their property from an unfair taking or to obtain full compensation if the action is successful.