WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Congressman Brian Mast (FL-18) 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.
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 Florida, water quality and recreation go hand-in-hand. Toxic algae often keeps people from enjoying our waters and beaches, so expanding eligibility to water quality projects is completely in line with the LWCF’s mission,” Rep. Mast said. “Florida taxpayers contribute to this fund, we should be able to use it to address the most pressing issues in our communities.”
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 18th 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 18th 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
Senator Marco Rubio has introduced companion legislation in the U.S. Senate.
The full text of the bill can be found here.