Thursday, September 26, 2019

Get Specific! Sierra Club Comments on the Blue-Green Algae Task Force Draft Consensus Document

Sierra Club Comments on Blue-Green Algae Task Force Draft Consensus Document
September 25, 2019

If this document is a blueprint for the development of specific regulatory recommendations to come, then the Sierra Club considers this a positive first step.

This document can be only a first step because it includes not one specific regulatory action recommendation; the closest it comes is to suggest broader adoption of the current regulations prohibiting permitting of conventional septic systems on lots of 1 acre or less in Outstanding Florida Spring watersheds.

Governor DeSantis has been regaling in the fact that he has called for increased fines for local governments that fail to meet water quality standards, but nowhere in this document do we see any recommended regulatory action that will help local governments meet higher water quality standards.  In fact, the preemption to the state of regulations that are critical to the protection of local watersheds has been ignored.  The best example of this is the state law that currently prohibits local governments from keeping urban fertilizer ordinance non-compliant products off local retail shelves.  And let us not forget biosolids.

Although the weaknesses and failures of current agricultural Best Management Practices (BMPs) were addressed, the obvious need for mandatory BMPs is most glaringly missing.  If local governments are being held to higher, stricter, and fineable standards, then these recommendations need to aggressively address agricultural runoff.

If this document remains a set of generalized recommendations, and the work of the Task Force produces nothing but non-specific recommendations, it will be easy for the legislature, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to have an excuse, and cover, for refusing to take effective action.

Sierra Club urges the Task Force members, Dr. Frazer, Secretary Valenstein, and Governor DeSantis to ensure that the result of this effort results in specific regulatory action recommendations.

Our questions today are:
  1. Will the Task Force next be delving into the details and making specific suggestions?
  2. Or will FDEP next be delving into the details and making specific suggestions?
  3. What are the timeframes and accountability processes for the specific recommendations?
  4. Will specific recommendations be made to the legislature?

Diana Umpierre, AICP
Organizing Representative
Everglades Restoration Campaign
Sierra Club
136A S. Main Street (P.O. Box 2347), Belle Glade, FL 33430
(954) 829-7632
(561) 983-8655

Summer of 2018 [Photo by John Moran]