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Patrick Murphy heralds new reservoir for ailing Indian River Lagoon

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U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy joined officials with the Army Corps of Engineers to hail the start of construction on a major project to build a new 3,400-acre reservoir to help relieve pressure on the Indian River Lagoon and St. Lucie River.

Murphy attended a ceremony in Stuart Friday morning, where federal, state and local officials broke ground on the C-44 Reservoir, part of a larger Stormwater Treatment Area project.

The project will ultimately yield a reservoir capable of holding and treating 16 billion gallons of stormwater that would otherwise end up in the lagoon, the St. Lucie River, and other downstream estuaries beset by algal blooms and other environmental woes caused by agricultural runoff and rising sea levels.

“Continued progress to improve water quality throughout the entire system can only be achieved through collaboration across all agencies, levels of government, and the community,” said Murphy in a statement Friday. “So while today’s groundbreaking of this vital reservoir is a major milestone, we also know that our work is not done in the fight to protect our waterways.”

“Together, we will see the C-44 Indian River Lagoon South project and other vital Everglades restoration efforts come to completion, providing the relief our local waterways so desperately need after being inundated by toxic discharges for decades,” said Murphy.

Support for the environment and social welfare programs, particularly Medicare and Social Security, have been key in shoring up Democratic support for the coastal moderate throughout his career.

An announcement from Murphy’s office contains a laundry list of moves Murphy has made to bolster federal efforts in the ecologically-sensitive Indian River Lagoon region, including voting stewarding budget amendments and successfully calling upon the executive branch for support.

The move comes a day after Murphy joined U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham in voting to support the so-called SAFE Act of 2015, which would halt the processing of all foreign refugees until new vetting measure are approved. The pair were the only two Florida Democrats to vote for the bill, which President Barack Obama has promised to veto.

Murphy ascended to the House by defeating Republican Congressman Allen West in 2012. He easily defeated former state lawmaker Carl Domino to retain the seat in a conservative-leaning midterm cycle last year.

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to FloridaPolitics.com and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at ryan@floridapolitics.com.

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