- Will DEP ever fix BMAP?
- Will Lake O’s Toxic Algae Ever Be Cleaned Up?
- Will Indian River Lagoon Seagrass Ever Be Restored?
- Will Lake O’s discharge into the St. Lucie River ever stop?
Governor Ron DeSantis visited Fort Pierce on Thursday for an important business. In front of 200 supporters in the Pelican Yacht Club’s main dining room, he signed off on Florida’s $117 billion budget for 2023-24.
DeSantis is no stranger to the Treasure Coast. Since he first took office in January 2019, he has been to our three coastal counties no less than 10 times and I’m sure he will miss a few. I personally followed seven of his visits to TCPalm.
One thing can be said about DeSantis: He’s in the right line of work as a politician. He knows how to frame a question, doesn’t trip over his own answers, and looks like the leader of the third largest state in the nation.
Where its platform runs a little thin, in my opinion, is on clean water. Every time I’ve covered it to one of her ads, I’m always left with the desire to hear the right words come out of her mouth.
This is what I wish he had said on Thursday:
“Making Best Management Practices Mandatory”
A 2022 TCPalm investigation found that the Basin Management Action Plan, a Florida Department of Environmental Protection tool to reduce water pollution, is broken and failing to do what it’s supposed to do. Best management practices are a voluntary way for landowners to follow guidelines which can lead to cleaner water downstream. These must be mandatory.
There are three main problems with BMAP:
- Insufficient runoff tests: There should be more water sampling at sites where runoff leaves a farm or settlement and enters a ditch, channel or tributary.
- Enforcement of water quality laws: There is a confusing enforcement system where a case reported as in need of correction leaves the DEP and is transferred to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. If a landowner does not respond to a letter outlining an infraction, nothing is done and the case is never pursued.
- Strengthen water quality standards: Nutrient pollution standards are still too lax.
“I reappointed Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch to the SFWMD board”
DeSantis commented on Pride flags at the White House, a potential debate with California Governor Gavin Newsome, vaccine policy and confrontation with the national economy. It would have been nice to hear him reinstate former Sewall’s Point Mayor Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch to the South Florida Water District board.
Those words would have instilled confidence in his commitment to clean water policy. We discovered in a Florida news service released Thursday that Thurlow-Lippisch insulted the Florida Senate in 2022. She was justified in her comments because the Senate had tried to sneak SB 2508 into the budget at the last minute without public scrutiny. The bill would have stripped Florida’s water districts of power over this water management and handed it over to the Senate to satisfy the whims of farm interests.
Thurlow-Lippisch’s reappointment to the SFWMD was not confirmed by the Senate in March and her last day on the board will be Monday. However, it took until this week for someone in Senate President Kathleen Passidomo’s office to respond to media inquiries as to why Thurlow-Lippisch was not confirmed. By the way, no one told Thurlow-Lippisch why not to her face, in an email, or even in a boring text.
“I have appointed a response team to clean up toxic algae in Florida waters”
Lake Okeechobee is Florida’s largest body of water completely contained within its borders. It is the second largest natural freshwater lake in America. It is also 90% covered in green fluorescent slimy toxic algae.
Despite being 43 miles off the north shore of Lake Okeechobee, DeSantis didn’t utter a word about the 467,000-acre lake. We know it’s connected to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers, so toxic microcystin could potentially infect those streams and the communities along their banks if lake water is sent to shorelines.
DeSantis has made $3.8 billion available for clean water purposes. He said $100 million will go to the Indian River Lagoon projects. But that money needs to go beyond simple warning signs warning us that touching water could be harmful to our health.
Ed Killer is columnist for TCPalm. This is his opinion. Email them at [email protected].
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