Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency in two Treasure Coast communities, and is ordering the Department of Environmental Protection to take swift action to address algae blooms in the area.
The state of emergency covers Martin and St. Lucie counties, where algae blooms have been detected in local waterways. The executive order allows state and local governments to take action to mitigate the spread of algae blooms in the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries.
Scott said he was declaring the state of emergency to “expedite water storage projects to alleviate the proliferation of algal blooms.” Scott also said he is calling on the federal government to quickly approve permits for dispersed water management programs.
“Florida’s waterways, wildlife and families have been severely impacted by the inaction and negligence of the federal government not making the needed repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike and Florida can no longer afford to wait,” said Scott in a statement. “Because the Obama Administration has failed to act on this issue, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues to discharge millions of gallons of water into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries resulting in the growth of blue-green algae which is now entering residential waterways in South Florida.”
Scott said the state will “devote every available resource to find solutions for the families and businesses in this area.”
The governor also called on the Department of Environmental Protection to deploy teams to survey and sample areas impacted by the algae blooms, purchase on-site microsystin testing kits which allow field staff to perform faster, preliminary tests for toxins on-site; and launch a bloom reporting hotline.
He also directed the South Florida Water Management District to store additional water north of Lake Okeechobee, work with state and community partners to explore opportunities to increase water flowing south, and store additional water through dispersed water storage projects.
“Our beaches and water are polluted and our way of life has been dramatically impacted,” said Senate President Designate Joe Negron, a Stuart Republican, in a statement. “The governor’s quick action today reflects his commitment to making certain our community has the resources we need to address this disaster as quickly as possible.”