Members of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Blue-Green Algae Task Force are meeting Dec. 8 to discuss harmful algae bloom and algae monitoring.
The group, formed out of a 2019 mandate from Gov. Ron DeSantis, consists of some of the top water scientists and researchers in the state. They're tasked with helping find solutions to some of Florida's growing water quality issues.
They'll meet at Florida Atlantic University's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce. The meeting will be available online.
"I think in a general sense we all are curious to see how the Clean Waterways Act is going to be implemented and, from our original recommendation, what would then need to be further addressed," said Mike Parsons, a task force member and researcher and professor at Florida Gulf Coast University's Water School.
The Clean Waterways Act came out of recommendations from the task force last year and DeSantis signed it into law this past summer.
The act includes switching the monitoring of septic tanks from the Department of Health to DEP, increased documented for fertilizer user on farms, and an updated statewide stormwater rule.
Stormwater is essentially rain washing off the landscape and into creeks, rivers, bay and, eventually, the Gulf of Mexico.
"We’ve talked a little bit about presumed compliance with best management practices for agriculture producers and it’s definitely hard to do inspections and make measurements at every single agriculture facility," Parsons said rhetorically.
"So, is there a way to better address presumed compliance? On paper everything looks great but we still see high loads going into Lake Okeechobee and we don’t see lower limits of phosphorus going into the lake."
The meeting will focus on presentations by the U.S. Environment Protection Agency and South Florida Water Management District, and both will revolve around harmful algae blooms.
"I feel good about it, and I think we’ve made a difference just in terms of looking at the Clean Waterways Act; and as soon as we put the report on the governor’s desk he was meeting with people to see how it could be implemented, so I think we have his support," Parsons said.
Calusa Waterkeeper John Cassani said he'd like to see the group work toward new standards for state criteria regarding the documentation and reporting of cyanobacteria toxins from blue-green algae blooms.
"They really haven’t developed a consensus on some issues, and guidance is needed for setting new criteria for cyanobacteria toxins," Cassani said.
Cassani has long pushed DEP and the Florida Department of Health to conduct more frequent tests and to report the results in a way that will help safeguard the public from the toxins.
"And another would be the notification and signage issues," he said.
Eve Samples, with Friends of the Everglades, said she's been impressed with new chief science officer Mark Rains, who replaced Tom Frazer this past spring after Frazer left the post.
Rains also now heads the task force.
"He has been very responsive," Samples said.
Connect with this reporter: @ChadEugene on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: Blue-Green Algae Task Force members to talk harmful algae blooms in Fort Pierce
Source : https://news.yahoo.com/harmful-algae-blooms-agenda-next-173151405.html914