Murphy brings algae-tainted water to Gov. Scott's office

Photo: Patrick Murphy's Office
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By: WCTV Eyewitness News; Associated Press
July 26, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Senate candidate and Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy says Gov. Rick Scott isn't doing enough to find a long-term solution for algae outbreaks triggered by water flowing from Lake Okeechobee.

Murphy dropped off several bottles of algae-tainted water to Scott's office on Tuesday and criticized him for not visiting the St. Lucie River to see the algae problem.

“Governor Scott won’t come to my district to see the toxic algae for himself, so today I brought a small example of what Floridians are facing to him,” said Rep. Murphy. “Our waterways are in crisis with toxic algae threatening our environment and hurting the livelihoods of the people I represent. From the beginning, I have fought for solutions and I will continue to fight for more federal funding and emergency assistance."

Murphy called on Scott to use more money that voters said should be dedicated to land conservation to buy property south of the lake so water can be treated and released into the Everglades.

Scott signed a bill this year that dedicates up to $200 million a year for Everglades restoration. He's also declared a state of emergency and plans to ask the Legislature for money to replace septic tanks that are contributing to algae problems.

Tuesday evening, Governor Scott's Office released a statement regarding the incident, “It’s disappointing that he has spent more time on a stunt than a solution. We wish Congressman Murphy would spend more time in Washington getting Congress and the President to approve funding to repair the federally operated Herbert Hoover Dike which has caused the algae problem in the Treasure Coast. Time and time again, the state continues to show up and put up funding to help with the water quality in this area and we wish Congress and the President would do the same. While Governor Scott has dedicated full resources to address this problem and recommended funding in next year’s budget, the federal government has failed to fund over $800 million in Everglades restoration which they are responsible for.”


By: Associated Press
July 1, 2016

STUART, Fla. (AP) -- As a noxious algae bloom fouls beaches on Florida's Atlantic coast, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is preparing to reduce the flow of water from Lake Okeechobee.

Many people blame that flow for fueling the problem.

The Corps' Jacksonville District says in a news release it plans to begin the reductions Friday, targeting the Caloosahatchee Estuary and the St. Lucie Estuary.

The action comes after Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency over the problem, and as politicians and residents are blaming the federal government.

Residents and business owners blame the algae on pollutants streaming from the lake.


By: Associated Press
June 30, 2016

STUART, Fla. (AP) -- Florida's governor has added two more counties to the state of emergency declared over an algae bloom on the Atlantic coast.

Gov. Rick Scott signed the amended executive order Thursday, adding Lee and Palm Beach counties to Wednesday's emergency declaration for Martin and St. Lucie counties. Palm Beach County is directly south of the existing emergency area, while Lee County is on Florida's Gulf coast.

Multiple Florida lawmakers have asked federal authorities that oversee Lake Okeechobee to immediately stop freshwater releases that coastal communities blame for algae blooms and other environmental damage.

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4 p.m.

As a noxious algae bloom fouls beaches on Florida's Atlantic coast, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it will reduce the flow of water from Lake Okeechobee that many blame for fueling the problem.

The Corps said in a news release Thursday that its Jacksonville District will begin the reductions Friday, targeting the Caloosahatchee Estuary and the St. Lucie Estuary.

The action comes after Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency over the problem, and as politicians and residents are blaming the federal government.

Multiple Florida lawmakers have asked asked federal authorities that oversee Lake Okeechobee to immediately stop freshwater releases that coastal communities blame for algae blooms and other environmental damage.

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11:50 a.m.

Lawmakers say a southwest Florida county should be added to the state of emergency declared over an algae bloom on the Atlantic coast.

Gov. Rick Scott directed state and local authorities to fast-track water storage projects to help reduce the algae's spread in waterways in Martin and St. Lucie counties.

Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto of Fort Myers and Reps. Matt Caldwell of North Fort Myers and Ray Rodrigues of Estero issued a joint statement Thursday asking Scott to include Lee County as well.

The three Republicans say Scott's declaration draws attention to water quality issues also affecting the Caloosahatchee River.

The lawmakers also have asked federal authorities that oversee Lake Okeechobee to immediately stop freshwater releases that coastal communities blame for algae blooms and other environmental damage.

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7:40 a.m.

Officials want federal action along a stretch of Florida's Atlantic coast where the governor has declared a state of emergency over algae blooms.

In a statement Wednesday, the Martin County Commission said it's inviting the president to view deteriorating water conditions that local officials blame on freshwater being released from Lake Okeechobee.

Gov. Rick Scott has directed state and local authorities to fast-track water storage projects that would help reduce the algae's spread along the St. Lucie River and other waterways in Martin and St. Lucie counties.

He has criticized the Obama Administration and the U.S. Army Corps for pumping water east and west of the lake. That relieves pressure on the lake's aging dike, but local officials say it's ruining coastal estuaries.

Both of Florida's senators plan to visit the area this week.


By: Associated Press
June 29, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- A state of emergency has been declared in Martin and St. Lucie counties following the unusually high presence of algae in local waterways.

Gov. Rick Scott signed the executive order Wednesday. It allows state and local agencies to take swift action to mitigate the spread of algal blooms in the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries by redirecting the flow of water in and out of Lake Okeechobee.

Scott is also directing the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to address the issues caused by blooms.

In a prepared statement, Scott also called on the federal government to approve permits for Florida's dispersed water management programs.


News Release: Governor Scott's Office
June 29, 2016

Gov. Scott Declares State of Emergency in St. Lucie and Martin Counties Following Algal Blooms

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott issued Executive Order 16-155 declaring a state of emergency in Martin and St. Lucie Counties following the presence of algal blooms in local waterways. The Executive Order will allow state and local governmental agencies to take swift action to mitigate the spread of algal blooms in the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries by redirecting the flow of water in and out of Lake Okeechobee. Governor Scott is also directing the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to take specific actions to address the issues caused by blooms. To view Executive Order 16-155, click HERE.

Governor Rick Scott said, “Today, I am declaring a state of emergency in Martin and St. Lucie Counties to expedite water storage projects to alleviate the proliferation of algal blooms. The order also allows the South Florida Water Management District to reduce the flow of water into Lake Okeechobee through additional water storage projects. In addition to our Executive Order, I am calling on the federal government to speedily approve permits for our dispersed water management programs. I am also asking DEP and FWC to take actions to address the issues caused by algal blooms in South Florida waterways, including developing a hotline for residents to report algal blooms and deploying teams of additional staff to more rapidly survey and sample areas impacted by blooms.

“Florida’s waterways, wildlife and families have been severely impacted by the inaction and negligence of the federal government not making the needed repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike and Florida can no longer afford to wait. Because the Obama Administration has failed to act on this issue, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues to discharge millions of gallons of water into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries resulting in the growth of blue-green algae which is now entering residential waterways in South Florida. Although the President has failed to do what is needed to address this growing issue, the State of Florida will devote every available resource to find solutions for the families and businesses in this area.”

Gov. Scott is directing DEP to take the following actions:

• Deploy teams of additional staff to more rapidly survey and sample areas impacted by algal blooms.
• Purchase On-Site Microsystin Testing Kits which allow field staff to perform faster, preliminary tests for toxins on site. These kits will provide information about the sampled algae more quickly and allow preliminary health advisories to be issued.
• Launch a Bloom Reporting Hotline. DEP will be establishing a hotline for citizens to call to report algal blooms, allowing staff to quickly respond to areas with a suspected bloom.

Gov. Scott is directing FWC to take the following action:

• Continue deploying FWC Research Institute staff to survey and sample any suspected blooms offshore. At this time, no offshore blooms have been confirmed.

Gov. Scott is directing the South Florida Water Management District take the following actions:

• Store additional water north of Lake Okeechobee in the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes.
• Work with state and community partners to explore every opportunity to increase water flowing south from Lake Okeechobee.
• Store additional water through dispersed water storage projects.

Florida has invested more than $688 million in Everglades restoration over the past five years and will continue to invest up to $200 million a year under the Legacy Florida bill which Governor Scott signed into law this year. The State of Florida has invested nearly $2 billion in the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) and $1.8 billion in providing clean water to the Everglades. To date, the federal government is $880 million behind in its share of CERP funding.

Senate President Andy Gardiner said, “We want to make sure our coastal communities know we are doing everything possible to help mitigate the environmental and resulting economic impacts of this algae. I applaud the Governor’s leadership and am grateful for his dedication to our environment.”

Speaker of the House Steve Crisafulli said, “I applaud Governor Scott for cutting through red tape in order to expedite the construction of crucial water storage projects in Martin County and St. Lucie County that the Legislature funded this Session. We know that storing water north, east, and west of Lake Okeechobee is the key to reducing damaging discharges. I am confident that the South Florida Water Management District will be able to bring these projects to fruition. It will take time, but thanks to Governor Scott and the District, we will not have to needlessly wait for relief.”

Senate President-Designate Joe Negron said, “I want to thank Governor Scott for recognizing the catastrophic impact this blue-green algae is having on our community. Our beaches and water are polluted and our way of life has been dramatically impacted. The Governor’s quick action today reflects his commitment to making certain our community has the resources we need to address this disaster as quickly as possible.”


By: Associated Press
June 29, 2016

STUART, Fla. (AP) -- County officials on Florida's Atlantic coast want the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to close the locks between Lake Okeechobee and the St. Lucie River.

The Palm Beach Post reports the Martin County Commission decided at an emergency meeting Tuesday to ask state and federal authorities to declare a disaster where blue-green algae has closed beaches.

The corps releases water east and west of the lake to relieve pressure on its aging dike. Corps spokesman John Campbell says those discharges are likely to continue as the lake's water level has been rising.

Gov. Rick Scott said the federal government "has not done a good job so far" of directing water south of the lake instead of to the coasts.

State officials say specimens from the area show an "extremely low level of toxins."



 
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