A one-stop shop to get the information on the water quality issues affecting Southwest Florida. The new state website called Protecting Florida Together provides updates on blue-green algae, red tide as well as other key environmental projects.
The site includes information on three waterways, including Lake Okeechobee.
Governor Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis made the announcement of the site at Lover’s Key State Park on Tuesday afternoon.
They were joined by Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein, State Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Executive Director Eric Sutton.
The new, online tool at protectingfloridatogether.gov is also mobile-friendly.
The goal behind the website is to give Floridians a tool that is easily accessible and where they can get streamlined information about nutrients and algal blooms, along with other water quality information.
Patty Meyers tries to make it down to Florida at least once a year.
“Now our new goal is twice a year,” she says.
But this is her first time visiting Lover’s Key.
“It’s beautiful. The pictures that we saw online, it just was beautiful with a lot of shells, and just absolutely gorgeous and it is,” said the Ohio resident.
Her visit comes the same day DeSantis announced the new, online tool. It’s something Meyers says she’ll put to good use.
“Definitely because I was there Googling this morning trying to find out where the red tide was and so yeah, a website like that would be awesome because there’s a lot of different ones, but there needs to be one,” she said.
Here’s how the website works. If you scroll down to “water quality status,” you can click and learn more about nutrients, blue-green algae and red tide.
“I think this is good, it’s accountability, it’s transparency and we think that this is the best way to go so that the public has the information that they need,” said DeSantis during the news conference.
“One of the things that’s very near and dear to my heart is meeting with the families and mothers who asked on the campaign trail and obviously when the governor got into office about the water quality and what that means for their health and what that means for their children,” said First Lady Casey DeSantis.
Now as the website currently focuses on the Caloosahatchee, Lake O and St. Lucie, the goal is to expand the tool statewide over the year.
Also at the news conference, DeSantis mentioned that he’d be announcing who he’d chosen to fill the final spot on the South Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board.
He appointed Benjamin Butler to the nine-member board.
Butler is the manager of a family-owned dairy farm called Butler Oaks Farm.
This comes after DeSantis requested the entire previous governing board to step down shortly after taking office.
DeSantis says this new member represents inland Florida.
“We basically have eight coastal folks on now and so this will be someone from more of the heartland, from southern Orange County down. It’s a pretty big landmass,” he said.
The appointment will be final after confirmation from the Florida Senate. Butler is slated to serve a four-year term.