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As Bouts with Killer Algae Rose, Florida Gutted Its Water Quality Monitoring Network

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"Gov. Rick Scott...ordered budget cuts to water-management agencies for five consecutive years and dismantled the Department of Community Affairs, which regulated growth and agreed to postpone cleaning up the lake."

As the algae crisis continues to impact communities around Florida, more reporting has emerged documenting Rick Scott's role in creating the current environmental disaster.

Today, The Miami Herald reported on how under Scott, Florida "fought federal efforts to protect water, shrunk its own environmental and water-management agencies, and cut funding to an algae task force."

This is yet another bombshell report which highlights how the current algae problem is not a "both sides" issue. As columnist Tampa Bay Times columnist John Romano wrote this morning, "No one is more responsible than Scott."

Here are some key points The Miami Herald article:

  • "Over the last decade, as the state fought federal efforts to protect water, shrunk its own environmental and water-management agencies, and cut funding to an algae task force, monitoring for water quality has plummeted. While one crisis after another hit Florida, state and federal funding that paid for a massive coastal network with nearly three decades of information dwindled from about 350 stations to 115, according to Florida International University’s Southeast Environmental Research Center."
  • "In 2014, the state cut funding to about 30 percent of the stations in Biscayne Bay where half the seagrass has died in the last six years."
  • "Better monitoring could have provided more warning about the lake and critical information for better understanding and fighting red tide and other water woes around the state."
  • "Gov. Rick Scott...ordered budget cuts to water-management agencies for five consecutive years and dismantled the Department of Community Affairs, which regulated growth and agreed to postpone cleaning up the lake."
  • "Cuts could impede efforts to protect Florida: Last month, the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, which tracks environmental enforcement, said the state had the second worst year for enforcement since 1987."
  • "You have to have a monitoring program in place to understand if there’s a positive response to the money you spend fighting environmental problems,” said FIU marine ecologist Jim Fourqurean, who has been monitoring seagrass in Florida Bay. “Without robust monitoring, we can’t tell."
  • "The water-management district is not doing as much monitoring as they used to,” said University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science phytoplankton expert Larry Brand. “They have a huge network and used to have a great data set and now it’s no good anymore. Same with [Miami-Dade County]. There’s not as much data around as you used to have."
  • "The water-management district, previously run by Scott’s former general counsel, has also come under fire for selective monitoring that paints a rosier picture of conditions."
  • "When his group lobbied lawmakers this year to reinstate funding in light of the repeated major blooms triggered by lake releases — in 2005, 2013, 2016, and again this summer — Calusa Waterkeeper chief scientist John Cassani, who monitors water quality on the Southwest coast, said he and his colleagues were told there wasn’t money in the budget."