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Rick Scott to include money in 2017-18 budget proposal to help clean up Indian River Lagoon and Caloosahatchee River

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A voluntary program to encourage residents to switch from septic tanks could be getting a funding boost.

Gov. Rick Scott announced Wednesday he plans to include additional funding in his 2017-18 budget to help clean up the Indian River Lagoon and Caloosahatchee River. The proposal, the Governor’s Office said, would include new funding for a 50-50 matching grant program with local communities near the areas affected by the algae blooms.

“It is up to all of us – the state, Florida’s local communities and the federal government – to work together on long-term solutions to improve the quality of our water,” said Scott in a statement. “That is why I am going to commit state funding and match it with local contributions so we can work together on efforts to clean up our waters.”

Scott did not say how much he plans to request for the program. Instead, his office said he is working with the Department of Environmental Protection and the South Florida Water Management District on the details the proposal.

If approved by the Legislature, the money would be used to encourage residents to move from septic tanks to sewer systems to curb pollution. The proposed funding would also help local communities build wastewater systems to meet the increased demand for services.

“Septic tank runoff is a major contributor to the pollution in these water bodies, and I look forward to working with the Legislature to fund efforts to curb it,” said Scott.

Scott declared a state of emergency last week in Martin, St. Lucie, Lee and Palm Beach counties to combat algae blooms. The state of emergency called on state agencies to take action to address the algae blooms, which have been clogging the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon.

Many believe discharges flowing down the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers are be one of the causes of the algae blooms.

“Every day, millions of gallons of water continue to be discharged into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries by the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers after years of the federal government failing to repair the federally operated Herbert Hoover Dike,” said Scott. “While the state has continued to step up and invest in important restoration projects to help South Florida waterways, it is clear that more work has to be done.”

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