Earlier this week, we were with the Governor in Jupiter as he made his announcement of proposed legislation from the Department of Environmental Protection for the 2020 session. Though not finalized, it expedites water quality improvements throughout Florida by incorporating recommendations of his Blue-Green Algae Task Force.
Because these will be changes in law, and creating law is outside the purview of a Governor, the report focuses on four areas for the Legislature to address: agricultural operations, wastewater treatment plants, septic systems, and stormwater runoff. The task force also made specific recommendations for each focus area, which the Legislature should enact in good faith.
Now Florida's Legislature must act in service to the public and approach this work in an honest and comprehensive manner. Florida can't survive more legislation that only goes halfway, mandating change without funding. Or worse, legislation written by industry henchmen, designed to benefit polluters at the expense of Floridians.
Floridians deserve and need to demand a work product from this Legislature that will move the ball forward using the good work of the Blue-Green Algae Task Force as a roadmap. The solutions are not fast or easy, but they move us closer to realizing healthier water for our rivers, lakes, oceans and Everglades.
A Governor Doing His Job
Record funding requested by Governor DeSantis is critical for the projects that are essential to replumbing our water management system. A new paradigm from the top that is inclusive of all users of our state’s water was ushered in this year. New proposals for putting the responsibility for the mess squarely at the feet of the polluters. We have a long way to go and the fix won’t happen overnight. For our water and waterways, these won’t be the only thing or the last thing. Just far, far better than today.
I’m reminded of the Governor’s comments regarding the Everglades and state waters as he was sworn into office this past January – "We won’t be cowed, and we won’t let the foot-draggers stand in our way." Looks to me like he meant it.
Now it’s the Legislature’s Turn
For all the money the Legislature approved earlier this year, without serious attention and changes to the status quo with new laws for Florida’s water and waterways, we’re merely throwing good money after bad.
The Governor has made his priorities clear. So, it's up to the Legislature – Republicans AND Democrats. We are working with younger and stronger leaders in the Legislature who are committed to our underlying goals. But we need to double these numbers to be successful. That’s where you come in.
Stay engaged. Talk to your legislators. And stick with us!
The Governor and DEP are taking aim at the state’s biggest sources of pollution: farms, aging wastewater treatment plants, stormwater and treated human waste used as fertilizer. Once the legislation is finalized, it will be in the hands of the Legislature. Stay tuned!
The fuse has been lit and it will take time to pull us out of the spiral. Governor DeSantis and his agencies are firing on all cylinders, but without swift and certain action from the Florida Legislature, things only grow worse from here. No more excuses, lawmakers. No finger pointing. Do your job.
Mike Knepper of Stuart spoke at the meeting: "We have pleaded with you, we have begged you and now we are demanding you stop this spraying. The people of Florida are sick of you killing our environment and I'm here to tell you, there is a tsunami headed your way. You can't stop it because there are too many of us."
Are you listening, Rodney Barreto?
Make no mistake, generations of spineless politicians and two greedy sugar companies have done the most damage to America's Everglades. But these pythons are a close third. Let's hope technology can kick their butts.
Audubon Florida: “With South Florida at the epicenter of climate change and trends pointing to more frequent and intense extreme weather events, Everglades restoration is more important than ever. Now is the time to push restoration projects across the finish line. Mother Nature cut (some of) us a break with Hurricane Dorian. She may not be so benevolent the next time around.”
“Like a coach drawing X's and O's on the sideline, the state's Blue-Green Algae Task Force is writing its playbook for cleaning up Florida's waterways.”
This playbook will make its way to the Florida Legislature. And that’s where the public comes in. Stay tuned.
“The Everglades are dying. On this matter, there is no debate. But for the first time in two decades, there is reason for guarded optimism. That hope is the good news. The bad news: We’ve been here before, only to see hope dashed.”
Without sustained political pressure from Floridians, the sugar cartel will push us all backwards, again.
Guess what else protects South Florida from sea-level rise? A healthy Everglades.
“Cutler Bay encompasses a host of coastal wetlands habitat overseen by various regulatory agencies. While much of that land is already protected from development, the town’s goal is to make sure those critical areas remain healthy.”