Governor Rick Scott today announced that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the St. Johns River Water Management District are committing up to $1 million in support for the Everglades Foundation’s George Barley Water Prize, which will award an unprecedented $10 million to the researcher or researchers capable of developing a cost-effective process for removing excess nutrient pollution from natural waterbodies. The state support for this partnership will include the use of the Lake Jesup Conservation Area as a site for the competition, technical expertise from subject matter experts, and funding to test the ability of these innovative technologies to improve water quality in Florida and around the world.
Governor Scott said, “Since I took office, we have established the nation’s most comprehensive nutrient water-quality standards and we are partnering with communities to find innovative solutions to continue to protect our environment. We’ve invested record amounts in our springs, made historic progress in Everglades restoration, and we will never stop working to protect and restore Florida’s environment.”
Eric Eikenberg, CEO of The Everglades Foundation said, “The Everglades Foundation is thrilled to have the State of Florida support the George Barley Water Prize to help solve the global problem of phosphorus pollution. We are excited that, with the support of Governor Scott, the Department of Environmental Protection, and the St. Johns River Water Management District, the solution will likely be discovered right here in Florida at Lake Jesup.”
Florida Representative Jason T. Brodeur said, “This project is a great example of what happens when we work together. I’d like to thank Governor Scott and the Everglades Foundation for supporting this important competition that will help reduce the damaging pollution in our state’s waterways.”
DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein said, “Under Governor Scott’s leadership, we continue to make historic investments in critical projects to restore the Everglades and protect Florida’s coastal communities. While we remain focused on improving water quality, and storing and moving more water south of Lake Okeechobee, we are also committed to collaborating with partners, like the Everglades Foundation, to incentivize innovative solutions that will protect waterways not only in Florida, but around the world.”
St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle said, “We are grateful for the opportunity to provide our expertise and land at Lake Jesup for these teams to test their innovative technologies that could change the way we treat water quality concerns across our state. It’s through these types of partnerships we are able to find creative solutions to restore our natural resources for residents, visitors and future generations.”
Governor Scott has been fighting to combat the impacts of blue-green algae caused by federal water releases from Lake Okeechobee by expediting Everglades restoration projects:
- Accelerated 13 Everglades restoration projects, which will provide more than 600,000 acre feet of water storage and remove 27,000 pounds of phosphorous when complete.
- Issued an emergency order in Glades, Hendry, Lee, Martin, Okeechobee, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties to help combat algal blooms caused by Lake Okeechobee water discharges from the Army Corps of Engineers.
- Established a dedicated source of funding for Everglades restoration.
- Signed into law the $880 million Everglades Restoration strategies plan.
- Became the only Governor in Florida’s history to dedicate state funding to repair the federal Herbert Hoover Dike, investing $100 million in the project.
- In 2014, Florida became the first state in the nation to adopt comprehensive nutrient standards for the protection of Florida’s surface waters.
- Adopted more water-quality standards and targets than ever before, with 150 new water restoration goals established since 2010.