South Florida Clean Coastal Waters Act
Considering the massive damage algal blooms have caused in our community, it’s ridiculous that a federal program specifically designed to combat algal blooms has never done an Everglades-specific analysis. The South Florida Clean Coastal Waters Act will amend existing federal law aimed at combating harmful algal blooms to require the first-ever specific federal assessment and action plan to reduce harmful algal blooms in the Greater Everglades region. Specifically, this critical study would include the St. Lucie Estuary and Indian River Lagoon in our community, which have been devastated by algal blooms in recent years.
The bill amends the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act to require an assessment and action plan for reducing harmful algal blooms and hypoxia in the Greater Everglades region—including lands and waters managed by the South Florida Water Management District—right here in our backyard. Under the direction of this existing federal law, the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science have developed numerous reports over the last two decades researching harmful algal blooms in the Gulf of Mexico, the Great Lakes, the Mississippi River and nationally. However, there has never been an Everglades region-specific report.
The South Florida Clean Coastal Waters Act directs the task force to complete an assessment that examines the causes, consequences and potential approaches to reduce harmful algal blooms and hypoxia in the Greater Everglades region, including how ongoing South Florida ecosystem restoration efforts are impacting the distribution of algal blooms. Based on the assessment, the task force is then directed to submit a plan to Congress for reducing, mitigating and controlling harmful algal blooms in the Greater Everglades region.
In short, this bill is a critical first step to developing a comprehensive plan that forces the state and federal government to work together to keep our water clean, not only in our community, but those across south Florida.
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