Today, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Executive Order 19-12 regarding the protection of water and the environment in Florida. The actions that will be taken as a result of the order are intended to have a positive impact on water quality As one of the first Executive Orders signed by the new governor, this action underscores his understanding of the importance of this issue for Floridians an is intended to help achieve rapid results. Among items in the order are:
Via Executive Order 19-12, Gov. DeSantis allocates $2.5 Billion over the next four years. This money will be used for Everglades restoration and for the protection of Florida’s water resources. Additionally, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) shall continue the red tide emergency grant program that assists local governments with cleaning up the impacts of red tide to minimize the impact on residents and visitors.
Creation of a Blue-Green Algae Task Force
The order establishes a Blue-Green Algae Task Force, and this group is charged with helping reduce the adverse effects of blue-green algae both now and over the next five years. The task force will support key funding initiatives, identify priority projects based on scientific data to provide meaningful nutrient reductions in key bodies of water and recommend regulatory changes.
Address Reservoir and Stormwater Issues
The South Florida Water Management District should immediately begin implementing the next phase of the Everglades Agricultural Area Storage Reservoir Project and ensure the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approves the project according to schedule. C-44, C-43, Taimiami Trail and other projects necessary to protect Florida’s waterways will be expedited. Work with the Corps of Engineers to improve the management of Lake Okeechobee, including updating the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule and identifying water quality treatment technologies to install near water control structures in Lake O.
Executive Order 19-12 directs the DEP to establish a septic conversion and remediation grant program that includes a local government match.
Department of Health to Participate in Harmful Algal Bloom Task Force
Per this order, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) will participate in the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation (FWC) Harmful Algal Bloom Task Force. Representatives will provide expertise and assistance in studying the causes and impacts of red tide.
Creation of Office of Environmental Accountability & Transparency
This office will organize and direct integrated scientific research and analysis to ensure that all actions are aligned with Florida’s environmental priorities. A Chief Science Officer will coordinate and prioritize data, research, monitoring and analysis needs to ensure they are aligned with Floridian’s top concerns.
Creation of Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection
Intended to help prepare the state’s coastal communities for impacts from sea level rise, the Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection will provide funding and technical assistance as well as vehemently oppose all off-shore oil and gas activities on all of Florida’s coasts as well as hydraulic fracturing in the state.
For more information about red tide, blue-green algae, and resources for businesses facing these issues, please visit FRLA’s Algae page.