Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced on Wednesday that he would be requesting additional funding in his 2017-2018 recommended budget to help clean up Indian River Lagoon and Caloosahatchee River, which are currently being affected by an algae bloom issue.
According to the announcement on the Governor’s website, Scott’s proposal will include funding for a 50/50 matching grant program with local communities surrounding the affected water bodies for algae cleanup and construction of wastewater systems, as well as a voluntary incentive program that will encourage residents to switch from septic tanks to sewer systems.
Septic tank runoff has been blamed as a significant factor contributing to the algae problem. Recent heavy rainfall and the warm summer temperatures have exacerbated the problem, both by creating an ideal environment for the algae to grow, and by putting increased pressure on an aging levee in Lake Okeechobee. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released water from Lake Okeechobee to avoid the levee failing and flooding nearby inhabited areas.
Scott released a statement regarding his planned budget request:
Every day, millions of gallons of water continue to be discharged into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries by the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers after years of the federal government failing to repair the federally operated Herbert Hoover Dike. While the state has continued to step up and invest in important restoration projects to help South Florida waterways, it is clear that more work has to be done. It is up to all of us – the state, Florida’s local communities and the federal government – to work together on long term solutions to improve the quality of our water. That is why I am going to commit state funding and match it with local contributions so we can work together on efforts to clean up our waters. Septic tank runoff is a major contributor to the pollution in these water bodies and I look forward to working with the Legislature to fund efforts to curb it.
Scott is currently consulting with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the South Florida Water Management District to finalize the details of his budget proposal and determine how much funding will be needed.
Disclosure: The Capitolist Publisher Brian Burgess was previously employed as Gov. Scott’s Communications Director.
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