Water quality advocates worried about a proposed bill’s impact on the future of SWFL water

Reporter: Stephanie Byrne Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:
(Credit: WINK News)

A fight for clean water in Florida is underway with advocates saying suspicious legislation is moving forward that could destroy our water quality.

They are afraid the bill in the Florida Senate will increase lake Okeechobee water releases, which could result in blue-green algae plaguing canals.

Captain Daniel Andrews, co-founder and executive director of Captains for Clean Water, said he was worried that people in Southwest Florida wouldn’t have their voice heard. “The state capitol from Southwest Florida is a six, ​six-and-a-half-hour drive. So to get people to go up there and speak, you know, this last minute, it’s just really ridiculous.”

People like Rhett Morris did make the journey to Tallahassee. “I personally canceled thousands of dollars worth of charters to be here. I would say in the room behind me, we have over $40,000 worth of income that was canceled to be here today.”

All because of the proposed Senate Bill 2508.

CEO of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, James Evans, said, “we’re very disappointed that the legislature would put a bill forward like this that would essentially sacrifice the coastal communities like ours here in Southwest Florida for water supply, and that’s a major concern for us.”

Those in favor of the bill feel the fishermen and water advocates misunderstand it, saying it will not cut funding to the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) reservoir. It provides a framework to hold the South Florida Water Management District accountable for spending.

“It requires that before the state releases funds, the South Florida Water Management District will certify that its recommendations to the United States corps, army corps, don’t diminish the quantity of water available to legal existing users,” said Adam Basford, with Associated Industries of Florida.

Opponents fear it will undo restoration progress in the Everglades.

Evans said, “this bill could dilute the process and put more bills in competition for the EAA reservoir, and of course, the EAA reservoir is one of our most important projects, I call it the keystone of Everglades restoration.”

The next stop for the bill is the Senate floor on Feb. 17, where amendments to the bill can be presented.

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