The Miami Herald today published an article about Florida’s water quality monitoring program that left out key facts and information. Unfortunately, critical information was not published on the state’s water quality, testing and restoration efforts, including:
- Florida has more monitoring stations than any other state in the nation;
- Florida has nearly double the water quality data of any other state;
- The department collaborates with water management districts, local governments and other partners to implement robust monitoring networks that provide hundreds of thousands of data records used to report on water quality conditions throughout the state;
- The state continues to use real-time data from monitoring stations located at key waterbodies statewide, including the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers and Indian River Lagoon, to help assess water quality conditions and changes;
- In addition to these stations, DEP, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida’s water management districts and local government staff routinely collect water quality samples statewide. When conditions change, such as during algal blooms, additional staff are deployed and sampling frequencies increase; and
- Florida’s ongoing and comprehensive monitoring will continue to play an important role as we work to combat algal blooms and restore the Everglades.
While remaining a national leader in water quality and testing, DEP also continues to work with all partners to ensure the state has the data necessary to ensure we continue to invest in and expedite key projects that provide significant results for Floridians. The article does not reflect Florida’s historic investments to expedite vital projects to improve water quality and store and move water south of Lake Okeechobee, which will reduce the damaging discharges by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. For example:
- Under Governor Scott’s leadership, more than $1.8 billion has been invested by the State of Florida for restoration and protection of the Everglades ecosystem, which includes the coastal estuaries;
- Florida continues to expedite a number of key projects to clean, store and move water south in the Everglades;
- Last year, the Governor signed Senate Bill 10 to expedite the EAA reservoir, which will store more water south of Lake Okeechobee and help reduce the need for harmful water discharges controlled by the federal government;
- The South Florida Water Management District expedited the design and engineering for this vital project, which was approved by the White House Office of Management and Budget last month but is still awaiting action by Congress;
- Governor Scott is also the first Governor in Florida history to dedicate state funding, $100 million, to the Herbert Hoover Dike repairs, a federal project that will help the Lake store more water; and
- Last week, Governor Scott announced that Florida was moving forward with the S-333 expansion project, four years ahead of the federal government’s schedule. This expansion project will help reduce the harmful water releases from the Army Corps of Engineers from Lake Okeechobee by allowing more water to move south of the Lake.
DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein said, “Florida has been and remains a national leader in collecting water quality data. Thanks to Governor Scott, we are also now a leader in investing in and implementing key restoration projects. Florida’s waterbodies cannot afford to continue to wait for federal bureaucracy. Over the past seven years, Florida has broken ground on 35 Everglades restoration projects, while also fully funding the state’s share of the EAA reservoir and expediting and securing full funding for the Herbert Hoover Dike.
“As we continue to make unprecedented funding and progress in long-term restoration, DEP’s talented staff remain committed to taking every needed action to protect Florida’s amazing natural resources.”
About the Florida Department of Environmental Protection
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s principal environmental agency, created to protect, conserve and manage Florida’s environment and natural resources. The department enforces federal and state environmental laws, protects Florida’s air and water quality, cleans up pollution, regulates solid waste management, promotes pollution prevention and acquires environmentally sensitive lands for preservation. The agency also maintains a statewide system of parks, trails and aquatic preserves. Visit the department’s website at floridadep.gov.