Would Trump or Biden be better for Everglades restoration?

Congress currently budgets about $250M to $300M for Everglades
Posted at 12:38 PM, Nov 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-02 18:17:17-05

STUART, Fla. — In the race for the White House, we hear a lot about red and blue states in 2020.

But for many residents of the Treasure Coast, the outcome of the election is more about blue-green, as in the algae problems that have often crippled the area.

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The sight of freshwater discharges into the St. Lucie River makes Florida Oceanographic Society Executive Director Mark Perry shake his head.

Currently, there are one billion gallons of water from Lake Okeechobee being sent into the estuary.

Old worries are resurfacing and new questions about who is better equipped to deal with these water worries -- President Trump or Joe Biden.

Mark Perry
Mark Perry, the Executive Director at the Florida Oceanographic Institute, says a Biden administration may put more emphasis on fixing the upstream problems polluting Lake Okeechobee.

"The president has already in the past couple of years supported Everglades restoration and putting it in his budget, so there is the expectation that that would continue," Perry said.

Congress budgets about $250 million to $300 million for Everglades restoration, supported by Trump. This includes building a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee to hold excess water, currently being sent east and west.

There is also separate work to strengthen the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee, which should be done in 2022.

Harmful algae sign
Toxic algae is always a concern for Treasure Coast residents once the Army Corp of Engineers releases freshwater from Lake Okeechobee.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has enlisted Trump's support to expedite some Everglades and Lake Okeechobee-related projects.

"You still need about the same matching from the state, so you need $300 [million] and $300 million, and then going forward after 2022, we're going to need totally about $1.2 billion," Perry said.

So, what then might a Biden administration offer for the future of the Everglades and Treasure Coast waterways.

"I think what a Biden administration might bring is also a focus on that environmental question, the broader environmental question," Perry said."You might see more of a focus on what's the source of the problems. Why are we getting so much pollution into our waterways, to begin with, and again he'll probably put more emphasis on the states to do more at finding out where the sources of these are upstream."