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Rep. Brian Mast files bill to open up more funding for water quality projects

Mast says he wants to see taxpayer dollars 'spent in a way that's going to make sure that we have a clean environment'
Brian Mast speaks on Zoom in December 2021
Posted at 4:39 PM, Dec 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-10 19:50:32-05

STUART, Fla. — U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., has filed a bill that aims to open up more federal funding to pay for projects that protect water quality in Florida.

Mast said the Land and Water Conservation Fund already exists exclusively to help fund water infrastructure projects like boat ramps, docks, and parks. Currently, the fund cannot be used for projects specifically related to water quality improvement.

Now, he wants to be able to use that fund to also support projects that clean the water around that infrastructure, such as eliminating harmful algae blooms.

In his district, he said, the funding could also go toward specific projects such as:

  • Stormwater system rehabilitation in Sewall's Point in Martin County
  • 1,121 septic to sewer conversions in Martin County
  • Control structure to regulate discharge levels from the E-8 canal into the North Fork of the St. Lucie River in St. Lucie County
  • Howard Creek stormwater treatment area construction in St. Lucie County

Mast said Floridians already pay into the fund, and this bill would help them see more benefits from it.

"If Florida taxpayer dollars are going into this, we want to see them spent in a way that's going to make sure that we have a clean environment throughout our state, which helps our businesses, and it helps us to have a smile on our face because we're taking our kids or our family out on exactly what it is that we enjoy about the state of Florida," Mast said.

According to Mast's office, the Department of the Interior issued a rule in 2019 that allowed the LWCF to be used for water quality projects. The Land and Water Conservation Fund Amendment Act would codify that guidance.

Moreover, to be eligible for the funds, states will be able to submit existing Basin Area Management Plans (BMAPs) to the Department of the Interior, in addition to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has introduced companion legislation in the U.S. Senate.