State budget targets red tide

Red tide cells
Karenia brevis (red tide) cells - Mote Marine | Submitted

Gov. Ron DeSantis has released a $91.3 billion state budget proposal for the fiscal year 2019-20, including $26 million “to improve water quality and combat the effects and impacts of harmful algal blooms, including blue-green algae and red tide.”

$10.8 million is recommended to increase water quality monitoring, support the Blue-Green Algae Task Force, and to develop a water quality public information portal providing monitoring data for all of Florida’s outstanding springs and key waterbodies, as well as to allow the public to track the investment in projects and progress in attaining water quality goals.

$10 million is recommended for innovative technologies and short-term solutions to address the impacts of algae blooms, including the continuation of the Department of Environmental Protection’s emergency red tide grant program, and may also address water quality treatment technologies surrounding Lake Okeechobee.

$4.2 million is recommended to establish the Center for Red Tide Research within the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and to support the Harmful Algal Bloom Task Force and partnerships for mitigation and technology development with a renewed focus on red tide.

$1 million is recommended for the Department of Health to conduct a study on the long-term health impacts of red tide and blue-green algae.