County to declare red tide state of emergency as tons of dead fish head to the landfill

Manatee County is expected to declare a local state of emergency in the wake of this year’s persistent and devastating red tide bloom.

An emergency declaration allows county officials to perform any emergency action, pay county staff overtime and coordinate special purchases to deal with the emergency at hand.

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The declaration comes a week after Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Hillsborough, Lee and Pinellas counties and scientists predicting it could get worse before it gets better.

The county commission will take up the emergency declaration resolution at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday and within its regular meeting also will initiate a waiver on landfill tipping fees retroactive to Aug. 9 to Sept. 9 to dispose of 120 tons of dead fish to date.

“Emergency measures are required to protect the health, safety, welfare and property of Manatee County residents and visitors,” the resolution states.

The state of emergency is scheduled to expire at midnight on Aug. 29, but can be extended by county commission vote, as can the 30-day landfill tipping fee waiver should the crisis persist.

The Manatee County Emergency Operations Center also has activated a red tide hotline, which is manned daily from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. The number is 941-749-3547.