Stuart, Fla. – U.S. Congressman Brian Mast (FL-18) today proposed three policies to include in this year’s appropriations bill that would help ensure Florida has access to safe and clean water.
The three-pronged approach includes:
Defunding the spraying of toxic chemicals used to manage invasive plants. Instead, the proposal would redirect the funding to mechanical and biological management methods. These toxic chemicals are dangerous for humans, severely harm the ecology of Florida’s waterways, poison fish and contribute to the proliferation of harmful algal blooms.
Prohibiting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from spending any money to discharge water from Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie Estuary that tests above the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 8 parts per billion microcystin standard.
Prioritizing funding for the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir that will help send more water south and end harmful discharges to the east and west coasts of Florida.
“The algal bloom outbreak at Pahokee Marina is just the latest in a long line of disasters for Florida’s environment and public health. Nobody should lack access to clean and safe water, but sadly, that’s the reality for people on the Treasure Coast nearly every summer when the Army Corps dumps toxic water into our community. Urgent action is needed to address this issue,” Rep. Mast said. “If we wouldn’t put it in a bathtub with our kids, it doesn’t belong in our waterways, which is why I am working to defund toxic chemical spraying, prevent toxic discharges to our estuaries and send clean water south into the Everglades where it is needed.”
Rep. Mast worked with the EPA in 2019 to set a new public health standard for microcystin (8 parts per billion), which in turn forced the Army Corps of Engineers to admit to knowingly discharging toxic water to the coastal estuaries. Despite acknowledging that these releases are toxic, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has continued to poison Americans.
The EAA Reservoir was authorized by Congress as a result of legislation written by Rep. Mast in 2018 and included in the Water Resources Development Act of 2018. Since then, the Army Corps has engaged in bureaucratic delays that have jeopardized timely completion of this critical project to move more water south and stop toxic discharges to Florida’s coastal communities.
In response, Rep. Mast wrote legislation—included in the Water Resources Development Act of 2020—to overcome the Army Corps’ bureaucracy by clarifying that the project was not subject to the Army Corps’ “new start” requirement. Rep. Mast has prioritized funding for the EAA reservoir and led efforts that have resulted in historic levels of funding for Everglades restoration.
Copies of the letters that Rep. Mast sent to Chair Marcy Kaptur (OH-9) and Ranking Member Mike Simpson (ID-2) can be found here: