TAMPA, Fla. — To help fight the red tide problem plaguing Florida’s beaches and waters, Gov. Ron DeSantis has proposed adding $35 million into the state's budget to improve water quality and offset the impacts of harmful algal blooms.
"It's uncomfortable to sort of be so cheerily optimistic and excited when you see devastation happening from a red tide or blue green algae bloom,” said Noah Valenstine, presidential fellow in water policy at Florida Gulf Coast University, and former head of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
“But we really are sort of in the renaissance of an environmental movement here in Florida," he said.
Valenstine says the $35 million proposed in the new budget is a good start. The proposal in DeSantis’ Freedom First budget includes:
- $15 million for technology and short-term fixes to help clean and prevent harmful algal blooms.
- $10.8 8 million for water quality monitoring, portals and the Blue-Green Algae Task Force
- $5 million for county governments
- $4.2 million for research, including money for USF and Mote
"The benefits, though, of those projects, regardless as to where they are in Florida, are actually going to be able to help us all,” said Valenstine.
However, some say this doesn't address red tide at its roots.
"The approach is the same. And I think that approach fails to look at pollution at its source,” said Justin Bloom, founder of Suncoast Waterkeeper, a group focused on protecting and restoring our waters. He says we need better regulation and enforcement to prevent red tide to begin with.
"Efforts to come up with solutions at once the red tide is already blooming on our coasts, is really inefficient," said Bloom.
The proposed budget also includes 100 million dollars for water treatment and the closure of Piney Point.