STUART — The Martin County Board of Commissioners is asking Gov. Rick Scott to declare a state of emergency to protect the St. Lucie Estuary and the Indian River Lagoon.
Late Tuesday evening, the commissioners unanimously approved a resolution asking Scott, "through executive order and/or other powers available under law, to activate all available state and local emergency and relief resources and mechanisms for the protection" of the lagoon and estuary.
The commission approved the resolution, which was not on its agenda, without discussion.
St. Lucie County Board of Commissioners is considering a similar resolution.
Martin County Administrator Taryn Kryzda said the resolution is designed primarily to "bring a heightened level of awareness to the state" of the condition of the estuary and lagoon, adding that he declaration "could make emergency funds available" to businesses affected by pollution in the waterways.
State Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, has said he and Scott are discussing what power lies behind a declaration and what the benefits would be.
Local declarations of emergency are often used in hurricanes and allow counties to evacuate people, suspend purchasing regulations and apply to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for reimbursements.
If the state joins in this case, it could suspend Department of Environmental Protection permitting requirements.
This report will be updated.