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The legal fight begins: City files first official legal challenge to State Road 7
"If the South Florida Water Management District won't protect our citizens' drinking water, then we will."
"If the South Florida Water Management District won't protect our citizens' drinking water, then we will."
 
That was how West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio on Tuesday summed up the city's first official legal steps to fight the construction of State Road 7.
 
Tuesday the City of West Palm Beach filed a petition to fight a permit issued by the South Florida Water Management District to allow the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to build the road through the city's Grassy Waters Everglades Preserve.
 
"We will fight as long and as hard as we need to in order to protect our drinking water and our environment, regardless of the cost," said Muoio. "How do you put a price on safe drinking water?  I imagine there are residents in Flint, Michigan that would say you can't."
 
The SFWMD's permit was issued last month.  It marked the first official step towards the road's construction, and therefore is now the subject of the first legal battle to block the road.  Until now, no agency had issued any permits to build the road.
 
Yet there are several agencies that have voiced opposition to the State Road 7 project.  Three Federal Government agencies have expressed concerns over the road.  They include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Commission and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
 
"We are disappointed with the South Florida Water Management District," said Mayor Jeri Muoio. "Their decision flies in the face of what is clear evidence that FDOT ignored facts showing how the road threatens the drinking water for hundreds of thousands of residents."
 
Tuesday's legal action marks a new chapter in the fight over State Road 7.  While the city has spent years working to persuade agencies not to allow the road, now that fight moves from the board rooms to the court room.
 
The first hearing is expected to be held sometime over the summer.