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Expedite legislation to protect Florida waterways, governor says

Florida Gov. DeSantis prioritizes key environmental issues for upcoming session

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis wants to expedite legislation to protect and improve the water quality throughout the state of Florida.

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to expedite legislation to protect and improve the water quality throughout the state of Florida.

On Wednesday, DeSantis addressed the media following a tour of the Loxahatchee River District in Jupiter, Florida, rolling out his proposal for key environmental items for legislation discussion when elected state officials reconvene in January.

"I am proposing legislation to expedite the improvement of our water quality throughout Florida," DeSantis said. "These comprehensive proposals, recommended by the Blue-Green Algae Task Force, will greatly aid the Department of Environmental Protection in our mission to enhance the quality of our state's most precious natural resource." 

The proposed legislation tackles issues recommended by the five-month-old Blue-Green Algae Task Force, which is a consortium of scientists from across the state appointed by DeSantis. To date, the task force heard from local and district personnel on seven different occasions, compiling recommendations and ultimately putting together a prioritized list in time for the state session.

The task force recommendations take aim at nutrient pollution's excess nitrogen and phosphorous that worsen the algal blooms that threaten the state's waterways and public health.

Action items specifically include improvement plans for "sewage treatment and disposal infrastructure, sanitary overflows and storm water runoff."

"We've seen consequences of sewers often being thrown into places like in Miami and in the Tampa Bay area," Desantis said.

According to a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Biscayne Bay has lost more than 21 square miles of seagrass due to increased pollution. It's one of a handful of places  with all seven types of seagrass species, WLRN notes.

Joining DeSantis on Wednesday was Everglades Foundation CEO Eric Eikenberg, Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein and Blue-Green Algae Task Force Chief Science Officer Dr. Tom Frazier, as well other environmental stakeholders throughout the state.