Florida Gives Assurances On Addressing Toxic Red Tide – CBS Miami
TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami / NSF) – Interim Secretary of the Environment Department Shawn Hamilton plans to be in the Tampa Bay area on Tuesday to address a red tide outbreak that has linked massive fish deaths including the giant Goliath grouper.
Hamilton, who appeared at a ceremonial signing of a bill at the Nature Conservancy’s Disney Wilderness Preserve in Poinciana on Monday, said he wanted assurances that the state was coordinating with the people working locally on the outbreak.
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“I think it’s important to make sure they know they have a connection with the highest levels of the department to make sure no questions go unanswered,” said Hamilton. “We have been in the process of securing the financing options since day one. And we will continue to do so. “
Some local officials, businesses and environmental groups have called for a state of emergency to be declared over the outbreak.
“The red tide carnage is appalling and annoying,” said Jaclyn Lopez, director of the Florida Center for Biodiversity, in a prepared statement Monday. “Tampa Bay urgently needs help to clean up this mess and Florida must pull itself together and hold polluters accountable or it will continue to pose a significant threat to our way of life.”
Red tide is a naturally occurring growth of microscopic algae that feed on nutrients that could come from runoff from septic tanks, rainwater systems, and agricultural and domestic manures.
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Questions have also been raised as to whether the Tampa Bay outbreak could be partially fueled by contaminated water spilled from the site of the former Piney Point phosphate plant in Manatee County.
Legislators allocated $ 100 million in federal stimulus funding this spring to tackle the Piney Point site after fears of a potentially catastrophic reservoir rupture led to the massive water spills.
Governor Ron DeSantis said Monday that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Center for Red Tide Research has received $ 4.8 million from the current state budget.
“We actually created a separate fund to be able to respond in real time to things like blue-green algae and red tide,” said DeSantis. “We have this pot of money. We take advantage of it and help both Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties if needed. And we will continue to do so. Obviously, red tide occurs naturally. But if you have fish or something and you clean it up faster, a lot of scientists believe that this will keep the red tide from worsening, or at least weakening it. “
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