Governor Ron DeSantis addressed the media today in Juno Beach. The focus of the press conference was legislation regarding environmental protection and updates.
Governor DeSantis is trying to keep the promise he made at the beginning of his administration to protect the environment by signing two bills into law this afternoon.
“We got both bills across the finish line,” said Governor DeSantis.
He hopes to give municipalities money to update their infrastructure and make sure sewage does not get into drinking water with the Database and Comprehensive Bill to Protect Water Quality.
He also is making sure to keep up with the Blue-Green Algae task force and monitor outbreaks of blue-green algae, which have recently been seen in both Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee River.
Dr. Barry Rosen, Professor at The Water School at FGCU said, “There is the building bloom of Microcystis aeruginosa, that’s the organism that’s been a headache in the past in 2018, 2016, it’s alive and growing well in the canal system as well as Lake Okeechobee.”
The governor wants to make water quality a top priority since he admits, “Many wastewater treatment systems in Florida are poorly maintained.”
This bill requires the Department of Agriculture to perform onsite verification of best management practices for runoff every two years. It also requires utilities to come up with maintenance plans for wastewater treatment systems and transfers septic tank inspection from The Florida Department of Health to Environmental Protection.
The Environmental Accountability Bill is aimed at adding criminal charges for environmental crimes, increasing punishments by 50%.
“We needed a bill that had penalties for violating environmental laws that actually do what they’re supposed to do,” DeSantis said.
There were some environmental budget provisions that didn’t make the cut, including one million dollars in funding for the second phase of a septic mitigation project in Naples Bay.
You can watch the Livestream here: