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Rick Scott urges congressional delegation to take ‘immediate action’ to address algae problem

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

It’s time to take action.

That was the message Gov. Rick Scott sent to Florida’s congressional delegation in a letter Tuesday. The letter outlines what Florida has done to address the algae-bloom in South Florida, and calls on the delegation to take immediate action to make sure Florida received a federal emergency declaration.

“Florida is without a doubt the most beautiful state in the country with some of the world’s most incredible natural treasures. We need your help in protecting these natural treasures and the millions of Florida families who are being impacted by potentially harmful algal blooms,” said Scott in the letter. “Please utilize your position in Congress to take immediate action by working to ensure Florida receives the federal emergency declaration and that the federal government fund the maintenance and repair to the federally operated Herbert Hoover Dike. These repairs would safely hold water to prevent unnatural Lake Okeechobee discharges that are leading to the increased formation of algae.”

The Naples Republican on July 6 sent a letter to President Barack Obama and the regional FEMA administrator asking for an emergency declaration because of the “public health and safety threats associated with the unnatural discharges of nutrient-laden freshwater from Lake Okeechobee into the canals that flow east into the Indian River Lagoon and west into the Caloosahatchee River.”

The blue-green algae has clogged the waterways along the Treasure Coast, at times closing beaches. Many believe that the ongoing discharges from Lake Okeechobee are to blame for the algae bloom, but the South Florida Water Management District has said the releases aren’t the sole cause.

Scott, who declared a state of emergency in Martin, St. Lucie, Lee and Palm Beach counties, said he hopes the state’s congressional delegation will “help convey the emergency our state is facing to help get it approved.”

He already has two allies in the Senate.

Sen. Bill Nelson on July 7 wrote a letter to the president in support of the state’s request for an emergency declaration, saying it is “important all federal resources are available to help address the cause and consequence of these toxic blue-green algae bloom.”

That same day Sen. Marco Rubio also wrote a letter asking the president to grant the state’s request.

“I remain concerned for the health of residents and visitors, who have reported headaches, respiratory problems and rashes, among other ailments,” said Rubio in his letter. “Additionally, businesses that rely on these waters have also greatly suffered — not only from these harmful algal blooms but also what they have been experiencing all year as a result of the continued discharges from Lake Okeechobee.”

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