Legislative motion wanted to blunt purple tide
Whereas coastal wildlife and residents gasp below the burden of Southwest Florida’s purple tide, improvement pursuits are quietly blocking makes an attempt in Tallahassee to handle the nutrient sources fueling these tragedies. One such motion: the Florida Engineering Society is vocally opposing the passage of a modest reform of Florida’s stormwater guidelines, introduced ahead by the Division of Environmental Safety (DEP).
Karenia brevis, the purple tide organism, loves heat water temperatures and water wealthy in nitrogen and phosphorus, vitamins that wash into the nearshore from sources together with stormwater runoff, fertilizer, agricultural runoff, wastewater, septic tanks, and extra. One vital supply — stormwater — is ruled by state guidelines in an try to carry and clear water from developed areas earlier than it reaches the coasts. Sadly, these guidelines have been written earlier than we knew as a lot in regards to the perform of those programs — and now that the science is healthier understood, they desperately should be up to date. For the final 12 months, DEP has been working with stakeholders starting from native governments to homebuilders to environmental teams like Audubon to barter enhancements to those guidelines. What has emerged are modest however essential updates to the rule that can assist be certain that the greater than 14,000 new improvement permits anticipated within the subsequent 5 years won’t contribute as many vitamins to Florida’s waters as they might have beforehand. Now the rule have to be ratified by the Florida Legislature.
Sadly, regardless of taking part within the stakeholder course of, builders and the industries that assist them are sharing late-breaking objections to the rule, totally on the grounds that it prices extra to develop land with these elevated water protections. These elevated prices can come on the expense of their revenue margin or be handed on to customers — both of which they argue is just too burdensome. And within the wake of those complaints, the ratification of this rule appears to be languishing — it has not been scheduled for listening to.
What is absolutely burdensome are the impacts of dangerous algal blooms like purple tide on all the state, whether or not it’s Southwest Florida’s seashores, the Indian River Lagoon, the meandering St. Johns River, Tampa Bay, or the Panhandle’s St. Joseph Bay. Fishing guides and seashore tourism companies endure, actual property stagnates, and coastal property values atrophy. Redfish and sea turtles gasp on the seashores of Sanibel and vacationers consuming on the patios of Naples bistros discover their eyes watering and noses and throats burning when the wind blows from the west. These prices are actual and dire. Floridians are determined for reduction. And our urge for food for complaints over the price of not polluting our water is nil.
In Tallahassee, removed from the horrors of purple tide, legislators have the improvement group, engineers, consultants, and different related industries complaining that the price of fixing this drawback is just too nice. Legislators additionally want to listen to from you — these affected personally and professionally by the results of poor water high quality — that the price of inaction is even larger. Investments in restoration are important, however so too are altering the principles that created this drawback within the first place, lest we proceed to make the identical errors.
This session, legislators have the power to go enhancements to stormwater guidelines, septic tank laws, and extra. If you’re pissed off with this tragedy of the commons, make certain your voice is heard. Floridians are determined for motion and disgrace on those that would protect the established order on the expense of us all.
Julie Wraithmell is govt director of Audubon Florida.