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Amid Shutdown, Bipartisan Congressional Panel Talks Florida Water Problems

A bipartisan congressional panel held a hearing Thursday [Oct. 3, 2013] about the water issues in estuaries downstream from Lake Okeechobee, which have been polluted by ongoing water releases.

The hearing was attended by a packed house of politicians and residents from all over the state.

Despite the government shutdown around them, congressional members routinely struck a strong bipartisan tone during the panel.

The hearing was put together by Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy and Republican Rep. Trey Radel, which represent districts east and west of the lake, respectively.

Murphy said it was important to make the hearing as bipartisan as possible.

“It’s important to come together in a bipartisan, bi-coastal way, to address this issue,” he said. “Don’t let this little divide say anything about Trey and I not working together on this issue.”

Radel said the panel came at a good time considering the all the gridlock that led to an eventual federal government shutdown.

“In these times of incredible pessimism I hope we can be maybe a tiny little ray of light a hope of optimism,” Radel said.

Both men moderated the four hour-long hearing, which was focused on the negative effects of the ongoing water releases from Lake Okeechobee on water quality in Florida.

Congressional members from all over the state—and the country-- stopped by to express their concern for Florida’s waterways, which have been effectively polluted by the fresh water releases into the St. Lucie River and Caloosahatchee River.