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Florida’s new governor gets strict on the state’s water problems


January 21, 2019
By The Gainesville Sun

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis used his opening week in office to underscore a campaign pledge to tackle Florida’s deepening environmental problems, such as the Red Tide, a cluster of algal blooms off the state coast. 

The day after DeSantis was sworn-in as governor, a state Senate panel heard a presentation from Florida Atlantic University research scientist Brian Lapointe, who attributes much of the state’s water woes to the 2.6 million septic tanks in use. Lapointe’s research, backed by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, downplays the impact of nutrient runoff from agriculture — particularly the sugar industry near Lake Okeechobee — as a source of water pollution.

However, Gov. DeSantis said agriculture shouldn’t expect a free pass and signed an executive order that planned to spend $2.4 billion over the next four years on Everglades restoration and water protections, establish a blue-green algae task force to focus on the issue and appoint a chief science officer to address current and emerging environmental problems. DeSantis also demanded the resignations of all eight members of the South Florida Water Management District board which has been viewed as close with the sugar industry. | READ MORE