Florida Governor Rick Scott is backing a voluntary program to help mitigate water discharges from Lake Okeechobee that have resulted in algal blooms on the Treasure Coast and southwest Florida.
To help clean up the Indian River Lagoon and Caloosahatchee River the governor plans to propose additional funding in his 2017-18 budget.
The money is designed for a 50/50 matching grant program. The voluntary program would target residents on the water affected by algae blooms due to frequent Lake Okeechobee discharges and, if approved by the Florida Legislature, provide funding to encourage them to move from septic tanks to sewer systems.
The idea is to curb pollution entering the water.
In addition, the governor says his proposal would also support communities building wastewater system to meet an increased demand.
“Every day, millions of gallons of water continue to be discharged into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after years of the federal government failing to repair the federally operated Herbert Hoover Dike. While the state has continued to step up and invest in important restoration projects to help South Florida waterways, it is clear that more work has to be done. It is up to all of us – the state, Florida’s local communities and the federal government – to work together on long term solutions to improve the quality of our water. That is why I am going to commit state funding and match it with local contributions so we can work together on efforts to clean up our waters. Septic tank runoff is a major contributor to the pollution in these water bodies and I look forward to working with the Legislature to fund efforts to curb it," Gov. Scott said in a written release.
The governor said more details and specific funding amounts would be released at a later date.