We are very happy to see that the Task Force has included areas of Florida other than those most visibly affected by the red tide and the algae crisis. Our readers will know that we have been calling all along for attention to our North Florida springs and rivers, which are all headed downhill in quality and quantity.
Thanks especially to our own Wendy Graham , hydrologist and Director of the Water Institute at the University of Florida who has called for realistic solutions not limited to simple political answers such as septics only.
Read the entire article here in the Gainesville Sun.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-
By Emily Mavrakis
Protecting aquifer now part of draft report of Blue-Green Algae Task Force
A state task force formed by Gov. Ron DeSantis to find ways to reduce algae blooms that have plagued coastal Florida turned its attention inland, to the natural springs that surround Gainesville, as the group met Monday at the University of Florida.
Blue-Green Algae Task Force members changed their draft report on restoring state waterways to better reflect that the impacts of high levels of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus aren’t only a South Florida problem.
“Clearly your focus has been on the Lake Okeechobee basin, which is in desperate need of some attention, but we urge you not to restrict the recommendations that are in this document to exclusively South Florida waterways,” said Jen Lomberk, a water protection advocate with Matanzas Riverkeeper, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the St. Augustine waterway.
“We certainly have our fair share of issues in the northern sections of Florida,” Lomberk said.
The task force, formed by DeSantis in January in response to outbreaks of toxic algae and red tide across the state last year, held it sixth meeting at UF. It had planned to convene at the Martin Levy Advocacy Center on campus Aug. 30, but the meeting was rescheduled to Monday due to Hurricane Dorian.
Outbreaks in Florida and elsewhere in the Gulf of Mexico are caused by a single-celled organism called Karenia brevis algae, which produces toxins that kill fish, birds, sea turtles, manatees and dolphins and can cause shellfish poisoning in humans.
The problems particularly drew attention in Southeast and Southwest Florida.
Tom Frazer, Florida’s first chief science officer and the director of UF’s School of Natural Resources and Environment, led the meeting as the public offered overwhelming support for the task force’s draft document, which addresses basin management action plans, agriculture and best management practices, human waste, storm water treatment systems, public health and data monitoring programs.
Christopher Pettit, director of the Office of Agricultural Water Policy at the Florida Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services, said he’s confident that the combined efforts of the Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Health, his own agency and others, will lead to improvements in water protection methods throughout the state.
“We’re continuing a conversation,” he said. “It’s about improving existing programs, and it’s been effective so far. We’re committed to doing what we can to work with the programs in place to make progress.”
The task force made changes to its draft document by including further references to groundwater contamination and aquifer recharge, two issues especially pertinent for Florida’s natural springs.
Graham also suggested the inclusion of more specific language relating to the impacts of nutrient pollution on human health, with added references to sea-level rise and more intense storm surge and high tide events…