U.S. Congressman Brian Mast (FL-18) today reintroduced the South Florida Clean Coastal Waters Act. The bill will amend existing federal law aimed at combatting harmful algal blooms to require the first-ever specific federal assessment and action plan to reduce harmful algal blooms in the Greater Everglades region.
“We made serious progress last year with the authorization of the EAA Southern Storage Reservoir and the mandate to redo the Lake Okeechobee discharge schedule, but there is a lot more that needs to be done. Considering the massive damage algal blooms have caused in our community, it’s ridiculous that a federal program specifically designed to combat algal blooms has never done an Everglades-specific analysis,” Rep. Mast said. “This bill will mandate a comprehensive plan for the state and federal government to work together to clean up our waterways.”
The bill amends the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act. In late 2018, Congress passed legislation written by Rep. Mast and Former Senator Bill Nelson (FL) to re-authorize this critical federal program that works to research and combat harmful algal blooms and make federal funding available to communities suffering from outbreaks of toxic algae. Under the direction of this existing federal law, the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science have developed numerous reports over the last two decades researching harmful algal blooms in the Gulf of Mexico, the Great Lakes, the Mississippi River and nationally. However, there has never been an Everglades-specific report.
The South Florida Clean Coastal Waters Act directs the task force to complete an assessment that examines the causes, consequences and potential approaches to reduce harmful algal blooms and hypoxia in the Greater Everglades region, including how ongoing South Florida ecosystem restoration efforts are impacting the distribution of algal blooms. Based on the assessment, the task force is then directed to submit a plan to Congress for reducing, mitigating and controlling harmful algal blooms in the Greater Everglades region.
The legislation has also been introduced in the Senate by Senator Marco Rubio (FL).