Gov. DeSantis demands SFWMD board members resign

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Ron DeSantis, right, is sworn in as Florida Governor by Chief Justice Charles Canady, left, as his wife Casey and son Mason look on, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019, in Tallahassee, Fla. Republicans will begin their third decade dominating the state’s Capitol. At center is former Gov. Rick Scott. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

A major issue for the gubernatorial race in the state was water quality. Both Democrat and Republican candidates during the 2018 primary and general elections promised to bring changes forward to fix issues with water quality throughout the state. The newly elected governor looks to be addressing water quality issues immediately, beginning by removing people from their management roles.

Gov. Ron DeSantis demanded the entire governing board of the South Florida Water Management District to step down from their positions Thursday.

“That’s exactly what I was going to advise him to do— to clean house at that agency during the primary and general election,” Ecologist Dr. William Mitsch said.

Mitsch said he originally came to Florida with the intent of becoming an engineer, but he became an ecologist instead.

“That was the Florida environment that did it,” Mitsch said.

Mitsch hold a strong passion and standpoint toward the water quality crisis in the state.

“I was horrified, absolutely horrified,” Mitsch said. “I think maybe with a new governor, we turn a new leaf on that.”

Water quality advocate Daniel Andrews, executive director of Captains for Clean Water, supports the actions DeSantis has set in motion. Daniels said November was the tipping point.

“All of these people have been asking, and the governor heard, and he has responded,” Daniels said.

In November, the SFWMD voted to extend a lease with sugar company Florida Crystals on land south of Lake Okeechobee. It’s the same parcel of land where a $1.4 billion reservoir is slated to be built.

“If these bureaucrats didn’t wake up after what happened in our backyard this year, they’re never going to,” Daniels said. “And that’s why they need to be replaced.”

If board members don’t agree to resign voluntarily, it will become the Florida Senate’s responsibility to take action.

Locals agree with Daniels the new governor’s actions are moving in the direction voters and Floridians want to see.

“There hasn’t been a good ear to the learned people about the problem and the solutions,” Alan Zink said. “Good for governor Desantis. Take action.”

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