There's no doubt that the poor water quality in our area is our most important regional priority. As we know from experience, when water is discharged by Lake Okeechobee into the Treasure Coast it has the potential to destroy our community, put people out of business, kill sea life and even making people sick. This cannot continue. We cannot wait any longer. Our lagoon and beaches must be restored.

When I talk to experts about the challenges of cleaning up harmful algal blooms, one of the most frequent roadblocks I hear about is the difficulty in scaling technology to the size needed to clean huge bodies of water. The Harmful Algal Blooms Solutions Act would go a long way toward improving the type of technology that cleans algae out of fish tanks to be able to keep our rivers clean.

The bill instructs the Secretary of Commerce to create a program that will recognize and award financial prizes to individuals who develop technology to assist with the 1) large scale physical removal of algal biomass, 2) removal of, or rendering harmless, harmful algal bloom toxins in the environment, 3) reduction of available nutrients that fuel harmful algal blooms, and 4) real-time monitoring of harmful algal blooms and early-warning systems.

In order to implement the program, the Secretary of Commerce must establish a board to administer the program made up of federal officials, state officials in effected states and non-government experts. The board will operate as a public-private partnership, soliciting private donations to help fund the awards, as well as determining specific award categories and amounts.

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