One of Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis campaign promises was to make the environment a priority. And on Thursday he made good on that promise when he signed an order in Bonita Springs- one of the areas where the algae has coated waterways thanks to being downstream from Lake Okeechobee– that would seek “to tackle Florida’s problems with blue-green algae in its rivers and red tide off its coast.”1 Later that day he also demanded the resignations of all nine members of the South Florida Water Management District (the same group who extended a lease with sugar farmers, on land that is key to water purification efforts, in November.)
He said in part, “I pledged I would take action, and today we are taking action. What we’ve done is really, really strong … I think this is something that can unite all Floridians. As we’ve seen things like increased flooding [and] rising waters, we want to make sure that Florida is doing what it needs to do to protect its communities.”2
- Seven dogs fall ill, one dies, possibly due to algae exposure near Lake O in Florida thanks to Big Sugar
DeSantis will seek $2.5 billion over the next four years for Everglades restoration and water resources; which will include algae issues, rising sea levels “and the ongoing battle with Georgia over water diverted for Atlanta’s use instead of flowing downstream to Apalachicola Bay.”3 What is still unknown is where that money will come from.
The new order directs the Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Health and the Visit Florida (a tourism agency) to work together to address algae problems, creates the Blue-Green Algae Task Force and the Office of Environmental Accountability and Transparency, and will direct the Department of Environmental Protection to appoint a chief science officer to research and analyze environmental concerns. And, one of the biggest priorities he will deal with will be to reduce nutrients flowing into Lake Okeechobee and to treat them before they flow downstream (because algae feeds off these pollutants).
It’s potentially exciting news if it all shakes out the way it’s supposed to. We will be watching this new governor and keep you up to date on what’s being done to fix and protect our environment here in Florida.