WASHINGTON, D.C.  – U.S. Congressman Brian Mast (FL-21) and Senator Marco Rubio (FL) introduced legislation to provide additional funding to be used for projects that address water quality.  The Land and Water Conservation Fund Amendment Act would amend the Land and Water Conservation Fund to increase flexibility and allow water quality projects to tap into this existing resource.

“Water quality and recreation go hand-in-hand in the Sunshine State.  Far too often, toxic algae keeps folks from enjoying all that Florida has to offer, so it makes perfect sense to expand LWCF eligibility to water quality projects,” said Rep. Mast.  “Florida taxpayers contribute to this fund, so there’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to use it to fix the problems in our community.”

“Protecting and restoring Florida’s water quality is critically important for our state. Allowing existing LWCF funds to be used for ecosystem restoration and water quality projects will give our state additional resources to improve our state’s ecosystems, reduce nutrient loads in our waterways, and reduce the risk of harmful algal blooms,” said Sen. Rubio.

Under current law, the LWCF is used exclusively to conserve lands and protect recreational opportunities, but cannot be used for projects specifically related to water quality improvement.  Expanding eligibility to include these projects would allow Florida to use the federal money for projects to combat harmful algal blooms, including regulating discharges and converting septic systems to sewer.

In 2019, the Department of the Interior issued a rule that allowed the LWCF to be used for water quality projects.  The Land and Water Conservation Fund Amendment Act would codify that guidance.  Moreover, to be eligible for the funds, states will be able to submit existing Basin Area Management Plans (BMAPs) to the Department of the Interior in addition to the Environmental Protection Agency. In Florida’s 21st Congressional District projects like the Howard Creek stormwater treatment area construction in St. Lucie County may be eligible for funding under this bill.

In Florida’s 21st District, these projects that may be eligible include:

  • Stormwater system rehabilitation in Sewall’s Point in Martin County
  • 1,121 septic to sewer conversions in Martin County
  • Control structure to regulate discharge levels from the E-8 canal into the North Fork of the St. Lucie River in St. Lucie County
  • Howard Creek stormwater treatment area construction in St. Lucie County

The full text of the bill can be found here.