World Water Day Highlights Need To Improve Access To Safe Water
Stuart, Fla. – U.S. Congressman Brian Mast (FL-18) today introduced three bills that, taken together, will ensure people are notified before discharges happen when blue-green algae is present, prohibit discharges altogether when the water tests above the EPA’s toxicity standard for human contact and mandate that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prioritize public health in their decision making.
“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. These bills will make certain people are notified of health impacts before discharges happen when there are algal blooms, prohibit discharges altogether when the water tests above the EPA’s toxicity standard for human contact and mandate that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prioritize public health in all of their decision making,” Rep. Mast said. “The Army Corps has proven that, if left to their own devices, they will continue to poison our communities, and as a result, our community has been treated as Florida’s septic tank for far too long. My legislation would put an end to that practice immediately.”
Rep. Mast introduced three bills today, aimed at protecting access to clean and safe water:
- THE TOXIC HEALTH THREAT WARNING ACT would protect public health in Florida by requiring the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to notify impacted areas of potential health impacts before discharging water containing blue-green algae. The bill requires tests to be conducted to determine whether the water to be released from a flood risk management project is contaminated, and if it is, to notify potentially impacted people about risks to human health.
- THE STOP POISONING FLORIDA ACT would prohibit discharges from Lake Okeechobee at the Port Mayaca Lock and Dam and the St. Lucie Lock and Dam when the water exceeds the toxicity level that the EPA has determined is too toxic for human contact (8 parts per billion of microsystin). For decades, Florida’s coastal communities have been on the receiving end of toxic discharges, including discharges that have tested greater than 60 times more toxic than the Environmental Protection Agency considers safe for human contact.
- THE PROTECT FLORIDA ACT would amend the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ operations to require them to prioritize public health when managing water infrastructure in Florida. The current operational priorities for the Army Corps include flood control, navigation, water supply, enhancement of fish and wildlife, recreation and more. This bill maintains the importance of all these priorities and adds public health as a criteria that must be considered while executing each of these priorities.
Together these three bills would build on momentum from last year, including the passage of legislation requiring the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers seek to minimize discharges from Lake Okeechobee as part of the new Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual.