Agriculture and septic tanks targeted by Blue Green Algae Task Force

MGN blue-green algae photo.

By: Jake Stofan | Capital News Service
October 14, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) — The state’s Blue Green Algae Task Force has published its first round of recommendations to lawmakers aimed at cleaning up Florida’s water ways.

It was formed by Governor Ron DeSantis after the devastating out break of toxic cyanobacteria, better known as blue green algae, in 2018.
"To improve Florida's water quality, making sure we're protecting these treasures that make us unique as a state,” said DeSantis in January.

The task force’s initial recommendations follow multiple meetings around the state.

Beth Alvi with Audubon Florida said she likes what she's seen so far.

"It was really interesting to see them ask the right questions and follow the dots to the questions that all of us who have been working in this arena have been asking for years,” said Alvi.

The recommendations include better monitoring of nutrient reduction plans and increasing best management practice enrollment and enforcement for agriculture.

“Lake Okeechobee's problem, a big part of it is agriculture,” said Leon County Water Conservation Commissioner Bill Howell.

Septic tanks are also a major nutrient polluter in Florida.

There’s more than 2.5 million in the state, 280,000 of which are leaking.

"That's going directly into the water table. That's the drinking water,” said Howell.

The task force wants to bring back septic tank inspections, which haven’t been mandated since 2012.

“To keep your septic tank working well you need to have regular inspections,” said Alvi.

The task force also wants lawmakers to move septic tank oversight to the Department of Environmental Protection.

They’re currently monitored by the Department of Health.

More recommendations from the task force are sure to follow.

The group is set to meet for a total of five years.

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