Ag Commissioner Nikki Fried tours SWFL to address water quality, launch initiative

Writer: Derrick Shaw
Published: Updated:
Dead fish can be seen floating in a residential canal at Punta Gora Isle Friday, April 23, 2021. A water expert said red tide caused recent fish kills homeowners are seeing. Credit: WINK News.

Agriculture Commissioner and gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried toured the Caloosahatchee River on Monday after unveiling her office’s new clean water initiative to improve Florida’s water.

After her visit to Southwest Florida, Fried says the waterways are what reminds her of what makes Florida so special.

Under this new clean water initiative, the goal is not only to protect our water resources but our economy too.

“If we lose this, we lose it forever. People stop coming to our state and enjoying our waters,” Fried explained. This is why Fried and her office hit the water with the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation Monday morning.

Ryan Orgera is the CEO of the foundation. He said, “It’s really important that she understands and that her staff understand exactly why Southwest Florida’s water quality issues are important, both economically, and to our environment.”

Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried.

With that in mind, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services launched its Office of Agricultural Water Policy Clean Water Initiative.

Fried said water has a major impact. “$137 billion economic impact; two million jobs. So as commissioner of agriculture, I want to see agriculture thrive, but we’ve got to be doing it in the best interest of the stewards of the land too.”

Her office said agricultural management best practices haven’t been updated in more than a decade.

They’re the guidelines for agricultural producers to save water and cut back the amount of fertilizers, pesticides, and other pollutants that can enter our waterways.

“For the first time ever, the Florida Department of Agriculture is conducting in-person site visits in coordination with agricultural stakeholders,” Fried added, “rather than relying on voluntary self-reporting when it comes to compliance.”

Commissioner Fried also said her office has just finalized the rules for this initiative.

Now, they have to actually put those rules into place, which should be published within the next two weeks. They’re expected to go into effect later this year.

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