About a decade ago, the state of Florida recognized that nutrient levels were increasing in our waterways and that typical stormwater ponds installed to mitigate nitrogen runoff were not as effective as had been presumed.
As a result, the Department of Environmental Protection, along with all of the state’s water management districts, engaged the University of Central Florida and a technical advisory committee to update the stormwater regulations to reduce nitrogen and phosphorous runoff to our waterways including our bays, the Gulf and the ocean. (See this revealing study)
This is important because these nutrients are the fuel that feeds the harmful red tide and blue green algae blooms.
The state’s effort culminated in drafting legislation and a 400-page statewide stormwater treatment rule manual which was slated for public hearings and adoption in 2011.
With the election of Rick Scott, this was abandoned under his short-sighted sound bite: “Environmental rules kill jobs.”
Fast forward to 2018 and the consequences of the ever-increasing nutrient fuel for harmful algae is all too clear.
Siesta Beach 2018
Not only has our environment been tragically impacted but so has our economy. Tourism is down, fishing and boating are down, restaurants are limping along, and real estate values and sales have been impacted.
Elections and resulting policies have consequences. We need to elect leaders who understand that Florida’s enviable quality of life and economy are dependent on a healthy environment. And the implementation of preventative measures such as the Statewide Stormwater Treatment Rule will reduce future taxpayer retrofit expenditures.