TALLAHASSEE , Fla. — Florida's red tide task force is preparing to give new recommendations to state lawmakers on how to prevent red tide by Friday.
To date, the task force has convened on five separate occasions to discuss the issue of nutrient over-enrichment and blue-green algal blooms. They've developed a document that they are working to send to state lawmakers on what they need to be done.
ABC Action News is still working to get the latest report to lawmakers, but they've developed this list of what their priorities are.
There are, in fact, more than 2.5 million septic systems in Florida that treat approximately one-third of the wastewater generated in the state. The nutrients in the effluent from these systems contributes to the development and maintenance of harmful blue-green algae blooms, according to the report.
The task force is recommending more regulatory oversight of on-site sewage treatment and disposal systems to ensure that those systems function properly, protect the environment against nutrient pollution and are protective of human health.
The Department of Environmental Protection should develop a comprehensive regulatory program to ensure that on-site sewage treatment and disposal systems are constructed and maintained to prevent nutrient pollution, reduce environmental impact and preserve human health.
Scientists also say acute power failure during storm events and hurricanes is a leading cause of sanitary sewage overflows (SSO). According to the report, thousands of lift stations across the state were constructed prior to 2003 and are not required to have an emergency back-up power source. To alleviate the risk of an SSO due to power failure, the task force is recommending emergency back-up capabilities be identified for all lift stations constructed prior to 2003.
Stormwater Treatment Systems
The task force also recommends that stormwater design criteria be revised and updated to incorporate recent advances in stormwater treatment technologies and other practices that have demonstrated environmental benefits, specifically nutrient reduction.
Innovative Technologies and Applications
The task force recommends also investments in technologies with the potential to detect, monitor and forecast harmful algal blooms to enable more proactive response.
Blue-Green Algae Blooms and Public Health
Public health issues as they relate to blue-green algae blooms are an increasing concern in Florida, though the science bearing on those concerns is quite limited and not well-developed, according to task force scientists.
The task force is recommending that regular and proactive sampling for algal toxins be incorporated into existing and future water quality sampling/monitoring programs.
Focus so far has been on South Florida systems. However, future meetings of the task force will consider all water in Florida and will delve into other important issues including, for example, wastewater, water reuse, biosolids, fertilizers in urban landscapes, the role of conservation lands and wetlands in maintaining water quality, and application of herbicides.
Additional recommendations are forthcoming, according to the report.
The HAB Task Force was reactivated in 2019 at the direction of Governor Ron DeSantis.