Our tax dollars are going into cleaning up Big Sugar’s garbage

Lake O algae free pic In: Our tax dollars are going into cleaning up Big Sugar’s garbage | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. | Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida
Lake Okeechobee with algae. Mitigation is not the answer; clean up the source of pollution.

The following is a disappointing press release from our governor, with comments by OSFR president Mike Roth.

Some members of the DEP’s Blue-Green Algae Task Force actually recommended attacking the source of the lake’s pollution, which is mostly agricultural fertilizer, but these voices went unheard because, as Mike Roth says, there is no political will, and Big Ag is politically protected.  Throwing money and blowing hot air will not fix our water problems.

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


The public needs to realize that the tens of millions of dollars going into mitigation is merely our tax dollars going into cleaning up Big Sugar’s garbage.  And “first of its kind tested in Florida’ could mean another major fish kill and other lethal effects on water systems and basins.  And still, “all of these efforts cannot guarantee an end to the devastating releases…”  Only some political will to rein in Big Sugar can do that.

Michael Roth, President
Our Santa Fe River, Inc.
352-316-4705

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On Oct 14, 2020, at 5:47 PM, Florida Department of Environmental Protection <[email protected]> wrote:

Innovative technology staged to be deployed if needed to protect South Florida estuaries and communities
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Oct. 14, 2020

CONTACT: DEP Press Office, 850.245.2112, [email protected]

Governor Ron DeSantis Announces Preparation for Algal Bloom Mitigation Following Announcement by Corps of Releases from Lake O

~Innovative technology staged to be deployed if needed to protect South Florida estuaries and communities ~

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Ron DeSantis announced that in anticipation of harmful discharges released from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) are preparing for the use of innovative technology to mitigate blue-green algae if needed, following the recent announcement by the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps).

Although algal bloom conditions on Lake Okeechobee have improved in recent weeks and there is no concerning presence of an algal bloom on the lake near discharge structures, Governor DeSantis has directed DEP and SFWMD to be ready to respond to protect South Florida estuaries and communities.

“Harmful algal blooms have a debilitating effect on our ecosystems and our communities,” said Governor DeSantis. “That is why, for the first time, I made it a priority to secure dedicated funding to deploy innovative technology to mitigate blue-green algae blooms. I will continue to advocate for better management of Lake Okeechobee and the resources needed to bolster our natural resource protection efforts. Our economy and way of life depend on it.”

As a result of Governor DeSantis’ advocacy, $10 million was appropriated in Fiscal Year 2019-20 specifically for innovative technologies to combat and clean up harmful algal blooms. DEP’s Office of Water Policy and Ecosystem Project’s Innovative Grant Program (IGP) facilitated the allocation of this funding following recommendations made by DEP’s Blue-Green Algae Task Force. The recommendations included an investment in a diverse portfolio of technologies to prevent, detect and address harmful algal blooms in a cost-effective, environmentally safe and scalable fashion. To continue this investment, $10 million was appropriated for additional projects in the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 Budget.

One of grants that has been awarded through the IGP is for $1.7 million to St. Johns River Water Management District to evaluate the application of Lake Guard Oxy Technology (a hydrogen peroxide based algicide) to prevent algal bloom formation in Lake Minneola. Lake Guard Oxy is a proprietary innovative algicide developed by BlueGreen US Waters Technology, Inc. and was demonstrated during the Governor’s Trade Mission to Israel in 2019. This will be the first of its kind to be tested in Florida. It will be used to illustrate how hydrogen peroxide can repress harmful algal growth and induce the succession of phytoplankton communities from a harmful to non-harmful state. This technology could be deployed along the C-44 Canal, if algae mitigation is needed to protect the St. Lucie Estuary as a result of harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee.

“The Corps decision to begin discharges is disappointing, but under the Governor’s leadership, the state remains committed to leveraging every possible resource towards studying and understanding algal blooms so we can prevent harmful algal blooms from disrupting our ecosystems and communities,” said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. “Innovative technologies are a component of our multi-faceted approach to protecting water quality in Florida.”

“I’m grateful to Governor DeSantis for his leadership to improve water quality across Florida and reduce harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the northern estuaries,” said SFWMD Chairman Chauncey Goss. “Thanks to the Governor’s investments in our environment, our partnership with DEP is ready to bring innovative technologies and other immediate solutions to protecting our water resources in South Florida while we expedite critical restoration projects like the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir Project.”

“This action is a direct result of recommendations made by the Governor’s Blue-Green Algae Task Force. Although the task force emphasized the importance of preventative measures, they recommended clearly that DEP invest in a broad suite of technologies including those capable of reducing the abundance of algae and toxins they produce,” said Chief Science Officer Dr. Tom Frazer. “The application of the proprietary algaecide to release water coming from Lake Okeechobee holds a great deal of promise and we are prepared to evaluate the efficacy of the technology to help guide future mitigation efforts around the state.”

Over the past two years, Governor DeSantis has been laser-focused on promoting water management that improves water quality, supports beneficial vegetation growth and ecosystem responses, and provides flood protection and water supply. Specifically with regard to Everglades restoration, under the Governor’s direction, the state has been leading the effort to expedite critical Everglades restoration infrastructure including work on the Central Everglades Planning Project and EAA Reservoir, the Caloosahatchee and C-44 Reservoirs, and raising the Tamiami Trail. Historic federal funding for Everglades restoration by President Trump, combined with more than $625 million per year in state funding secured by Governor DeSantis for Everglades restoration and statewide water quality investments, have provided unprecedented momentum for important water projects.

Unfortunately, all of these efforts cannot guarantee an end to devastating releases from Lake Okeechobee. More flexible water management policies by the Corps and significant increases in large-scale water infrastructure and storage are critical elements to minimizing the risk of future detrimental discharges.

About the Florida Department of Environmental Protection

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s principal environmental agency, created to protect, conserve and manage Florida’s environment and natural resources. The department enforces federal and state environmental laws, protects Florida’s air and water quality, cleans up pollution, regulates solid waste management, promotes pollution prevention and acquires environmentally sensitive lands for preservation. The agency also maintains a statewide system of parks, trails and aquatic preserves. Visit the department’s website at https://floridadep.gov/

https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/FLDEP/bulletins/2a57376

 
This email was sent using GovDelivery Communications Cloud on behalf of: Florida Department of Environmental Protection · 3900 Commonwealth Boulevard · Tallahassee, FL 32399-3000 · 850.245.2118

 

1 Comment

  1. Mike:

    You may want to stay in your own lane. Almost all of the sugar farming is south of Lake Okeechobee (big and small farmers). Any water that is used for irrigation by those farmers ends up cleaner than when they received it. The water then continues south (not north).

    Yes, Lake Okeechobee is a huge problem due to the nutrient load existing within the lake (due to our federal government straightening the Kissimmee River 40+ years ago causing sediment to quickly move downstream to the lake). There is also a latent load of nutrients on the landscape north of the lake from decades back that can only be addressed through regional stormwater treatment projects (STAs) such as those located south of the lake just west of the urban region.

    Repeating false information that is found on social media over and over does not in time make it true. We are working towards finding and implementing solutions and not throwing nutrient-laden mud.

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