Desantis as ‘Green Governor’? More Like ‘Blue-Green Algae Governor’–

flconservationvoters small In: Desantis as ‘Green Governor’? More Like ‘Blue-Green Algae Governor’-- | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. (OSFR) | Protecting the Santa Fe River

Mr. Webber has told the truth.  We could add that it is not just Mr. DeSantis who  is blue-green, his policies are hurled downward and made those of the Department of Environmental Protection and the five water management districts.  This is, of course, is coupled with our legislators who are owned by the polluters and users of industry/agriculture.  These industry-owned legislators are the reason good water bills cannot make it into law.

Our state is in even worse hands than Mr. Webber writes.  Our agencies have no workable plan to keep our springs and rivers from drying  up.  Their policies are allowing our waters to slowly but surely die.  The plans they currently support are mere licenses for polluters to pump and pollute with the blessings of our water districts and the DEP.

Read the complete article here in the Tampa Bay Times, July 15, 2021.

Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
– A river is like a life: once taken,
it cannot be brought back © Jim Tatum

Desantis as ‘Green Governor’? More Like ‘Blue-Green Algae Governor’

In: Desantis as ‘Green Governor’? More Like ‘Blue-Green Algae Governor’-- | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. (OSFR) | Protecting the Santa Fe River
Jonathan Webber

After the year we’ve had, many of us wish we could go back in time. But no one in Florida wants to go back to the devastating blue-green algae and Red Tide summer of 2018. Unfortunately, with recent reports of massive fish kills, water that looks like guacamole, record manatee die-offs and human health warnings, we are already experiencing another slimy, smelly summer.

Water and tourism are the backbone of our economy but, despite lofty campaign promises and hundreds of pages of water-related legislation aimed at cleaning up our water, we’re not much better off than we were a few years ago. How do we find ourselves, once again, in this situation with hundreds of tons of dead marine life from Red Tide — this time in Tampa Bay — and residents sick from drinking tainted tap water in West Palm Beach?

The blame lies squarely in Tallahassee, where leadership has failed to enact meaningful changes that will protect the health and beauty of our state.

Blue-green algae and Red Tide are harmful algal blooms that are dangerous to human health, wildlife and pets, and our economy. The severity of these outbreaks is the byproduct of too many pollutants entering Florida’s oceans and waterways from sources like fertilizer, sewage and agriculture. While both blue-green algae and Red Tide are naturally occurring, they rapidly intensify and persist with the influx of pollutants. In addition, rising water temperatures and irregular weather patterns caused by human-induced climate change fuel these water quality problems.

In 2019, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ much-lauded Blue-Green Algae Task Force developed a 10-page report of sensible solutions for addressing our water problems. The recommendations included more robust testing and monitoring of our waters and requiring agricultural operations to meet pollution reduction goals (currently voluntary). The task force experts asked the state to prioritize pollution prevention rather than pouring taxpayer money into expensive and untested cleanup methods. And they sought defensible human health criteria for the cyanotoxin that has killed pets and made people ill.

In 2020, the massive and dubiously named “Clean Waterways Act” had ample opportunity in its 111 pages to fit in the task force recommendations. It didn’t. That’s why reputable science-based organizations like the Waterkeepers and Florida Springs Council opposed it.

During the 2021 legislative session, lawmakers brought forward a bill to force the governor and his agencies to implement the task force’s science-based solutions. That bill died without even a single hearing in the Florida House. Water advocates also supported other bills that would strengthen pollution reduction goals, add fees to bottled water companies that suck our springs dry, set drinking water standards to safeguard human health, and protect the wetlands that clean our drinking water. But without leadership from Gov. DeSantis or the Legislature, those bills also died.

Fast forward to our algae-ridden summer of 2021. At the most recent Blue-Green Algae Task Force meeting in June — their first meeting in eight months — scientists were vocally dismayed that our leaders had not followed the necessary prevention-first recommendations outlined nearly two years ago. The task force’s science-based recommendations to protect our water are indisputable. The only remaining question is whether or not our leaders have the political courage to get the job done. The answer thus far is: no, not even close….

Tallahassee politicians, led by the self-proclaimed “green governor,” want you to think they care. But Florida’s increasingly polluted waters tell the real story. The proof is in the pudding, or in our case, the guacamole. And if we can’t keep our waters clean, it may be time to start calling DeSantis the “blue-green” governor.

Jonathan Scott Webber is the deputy director of Florida Conservation Voters, a statewide environmental advocacy group based in Tallahassee

1 Comment

  1. I really believed our governor was a green Republican who cared about Florida’s environment and passed laws protecting it . I have seen him stand up for the environment, but this time he fell short and I feel disappointed.

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