Originally published on Nov. 3
Re-election mail boasts "When D.C. bureaucrats tried to regulate our water standards, (Agriculture Commissioner) Adam Putnam fought back. Florida already has some of the best programs in the nation ..."
Our state's main commitment is that public water be made available for whatever uses development interests and big agriculture desire.
To implement the federal Clean Water Act, states were asked long ago to develop and enforce water quality standards. Waters clean enough for human health and ecological integrity have a strong public benefit, and gradually states complied.
Florida never quite did. It classified our waters and wrote words about quality, but there were no numerical quotas that could prove whether the quality was achieved. Attorneys could prove anything.
Meanwhile, Florida's natural springs were drying up or their water was so polluted that the famous glass-bottom boats couldn't see anything. Lake Apopka became green. So did the Caloosahatchee River on occasion. Indian River Lagoon was inundated with algae, leading to a massive die-off of seagrasses -- and of manatees.
Lake Okeechobee is a kind of cesspool, with run-off from dairies and sugarcane agribusiness. If flooding threatens, its super-abundant nutrients get flushed into the Everglades and/or to communities east and west.
Florida's inaction finally sparked a lawsuit, resulting in the judicial requirement for better regulation. Numerical standards were studied. EPA proposed adoption. Florida objected, and instead produced another set of verbiage. So help us, EPA accepted. Back to square one.
Putnam protects agri-business but as a cabinet member also has responsibilities to everyone. He favors "expanding energy production." In Florida? It sounds like fracking (extremely water-intensive) or drilling offshore or in Big Cypress.
Our attorney general has had Florida intervene against water quality standards in a lawsuit in Maryland! Can't our politicians understand water protection is important?
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