Governor DeSantis appointed the Blue Green Algae Task Force in 2019 to “ensure that objective and sound science informs Florida’s environmental decision-making process.” They made their recommendations, and the resulting proposed legislation is currently being reviewed in both the State House and Senate.
Calusa Waterkeeper, a non-profit focused on local water quality issues, has identified several recommendations of the Blue Green Algae Task Force that are not included in the current wording of the potential legislation.
The article below pinpoints what is missing, and how you as a resident can encourage legislators to protect our water quality by improving the proposed Act.
The ECCL’s Greater Estero Community Report (Nov 2020) highlighted the dangers associated with blue-green algae. Any step taken to minimize the incidence of this type of algae has the full support of the ECCL. Consequently, the ECCL endorses the complete implementation of Governor DeSantis’ initiative.
Recommendations for the Implementation of Governor DeSantis’ Blue-Green Algae Task Force Recommendations Act – SB 1522 / HB 1225
Pictured: Cyanobacteria blooms on Lake Okeechobee were verified as producing microcystin toxins by FDEP. April 7, 2021.
This act, the “Implementation of Governor DeSantis’ Blue-Green Algae Task Force Recommendations Act,” requires owners of onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems to have the system periodically inspected.
Specific Recommendations of the Blue-Green Algae Task Force:
- Requires the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to implement a stormwater system inspection and monitoring program
- Requires the DEP to administer inspection program according to specific standards, procedures, and requirements
- Provides for rulemaking
- Provides requirements for basin management action plans
- Provides notices requirements for specific notices of intent to implement pollution reduction measures
- Provides that verification of specific programs must be completed by a specified date to be presumed to comply with state water quality standards
- Requires DEP to provide all records promptly and in unadulterated form
The current bill language has lost or is missing several key recommendations of the Blue-Green Algae Task Force. It’s imperative that the legislature act now, as another significant blue-green algae bloom has formed on Lake Okeechobee and other areas of the state. These blooms threaten public health, property values, and local economies.
Please call or email your legislators (It is typically more effective to call) and ask them to include essential recommendations of the Blue-Green Algae Task Force that are not included in the bill language:
- Include a provision supporting verification of agricultural best management practices (BMP). Without this provision, pollutant loads entering state waters from agricultural operations cannot be accounted for or quantified. The presumption of compliance is not working.
- Recommend that Florida Department of Environmental Protection adopt National Environmental Protection Agency guidelines for blue-green algae toxins as new water quality standards in Florida. Without adopting the toxins as new state standards, environmental restoration and public health notifications of blue-green algae blooms cannot be enforced.
2021 Legislative Leadership and Lee County Delegation members and Bill Sponsors:
Senate: SB 1522 Sponsor:
A similar House version of the Bill has not been taken up in any of its three referred committees.
House: HB 1225 Sponsor:
For more details on the Bill, click Blue-Green Algae Task Force – SB 1522 / HB 1225.
Recommendations by the Calusa Waterkeeper.
Thank you for your support.