Florida’s Blue-Green Algae Task Force meets after half-year hiatus
It was a day of sharp questions and soul-searching as Florida’s Blue-Green Algae Task Force met Thursday [Aug. 4] for the first time since February.
The official theme was a mouthful (stay with us): “Prioritization of restoration projects within Basin Management Action Plans, Reasonable Assurance Plans, or alternative restoration plans (and) policy and funding program framework for the prioritization of restoration projects.”
Unofficially, it was broader: Why, after three years of task force effort, is Florida’s water still so troubled?
The question was top-of-mind because the day before, a coalition of 12 environmental groups released a stinging progress report. Since the five-member task force issued a set of recommendations in 2019, “Ecological conditions in Florida have not improved and, in many cases, they have worsened. Lack of meaningful water quality protections have resulted in persistent harmful algal blooms, a record number of manatee deaths, and an overall decline in water quality statewide.”
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Friends of the Everglades executive director Eve Samples noted “Among the 32 metrics we tracked, only four have been implemented.” She heads one of the dozen nonprofits that compiled the report. ”So there’s a lot of progress to be made.”
Samples went through a list of the task force’s priorities, each followed by “not implemented.”
Neither Samples nor others commenting blamed the group members; rather their frustration was with government, the Legislature and the agencies charged with carrying out the mandates of each.