Rep. Darren Soto fights for infrastructure funding as Central Florida grows

Proposal could impact traffic, roadways, water systems and more

ORLANDO, Fla. – U.S. Rep. Darren Soto hosted a town hall at the Ana G Mendez University Thursday afternoon to discuss U.S. Democrats’ proposal for a $760 billion bill in the House of Representatives aimed at improving infrastructure across the nation.

Soto, who represents Osceola and Orange Counties, is hoping to get some of that money to Central Florida.

“We are growing at 20%,” Soto said. “If it seems more crowded in Central Florida, it’s because it is.”

At the town hall filled with about 40 people Thursday, Soto spoke on how some of that money could help infrastructure in Central Florida over the next five years if passed, including expanding I-4 beyond the current I-4 Ultimate project, improving railway roads, bridges, transit systems, railways, airports, waterways, drinking water systems and more.

Water was a topic on the mind of the congressman, who sent a letter to the Federal Environmental Protection Agency after seeing a story on local media of dirty water coming out of the faucets in the City of St. Cloud.

“I write today to bring your awareness to drinking-water discoloration in portions of St. Cloud,” Soto wrote in the letter on Friday. “This malfunction has led to thousands of residents finding orange and brown sediment in their water. One such St. Cloud resident, who had black liquid coming out of their faucet, highlighted the issue on local news.”

According to St. Cloud city officials, the one resident with black water was due to a construction issue.

Other residents are dealing with brown water filled with resin. St. Cloud officials said more than two years ago their water polishers broke, sending sediment into the water system. Now, years later and with new polishers, some of that old sediment remains, they say.

St. Cloud is now investing in a new process called “ice pigging," filling the pipes with ice to clean the sediment out. City officials shared pictures with News 6 Thursday showing how they say it’s working.

Still, Soto is hoping the Department of Environmental Protection will test the water along with whatever available funding there is to get filters into the homes of residents who still have brown resin water and funding long-term for the city until everyone’s water is clear again, he said.

“The test I use is would I want my family to drink it? The answer is no. So we need to do something about that quickly,” Soto said.

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