Florida Governor Ron DeSantis touted his efforts to enhance the state's water quality during his inaugural speech. He pledged millions more would be added during one of the following legislative sessions.
Democratic state legislators, however, aren't convinced of DeSantis' environmental achievement.
"The results are clear — Florida's water is dirtier and sicker than when Gov. DeSantis first took office," said Rep. Lindsay Cross of St. Petersburg.
What happened to Florida's water?
After reviewing the departmental reports from 2018, 2020, and 2022, Politifact revealed that an increasing percentage of the state's water bodies had been impaired. Florida water seems to be falling short of quality standards.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection claimed that 2.5 million acres of the state's estuaries were polluted and unsuitable for drinking or enjoyment in 2018, the year before DeSantis was elected. That number fell to 2.1 million in 2020 and skyrocketed to 3.1 million last year.
An increase in nutrient pollution was one of the contributing factors, which intensified algae blooms believed to be toxic for wildlife. This negatively affects people who swim in or drink from such waters.
When DeSantis took office, pollutant levels in other Florida waterways likewise decreased at first, then skyrocketed by the end of his first term.
The silver lining
However, the amount of impaired water miles in Florida's streams has consistently decreased. More than 70,000 miles of streams were contaminated in 2018. That fell to only 15,000 streams by 2022.
Lindsay Cross used red tide and blue-green algae outbreaks to prove that the state's waters are more polluted now. Even though the red tide has been all over the news lately, there is an issue with data comparing these events over time.
Last January, DeSantis announced a proposal to invest an additional $3 million to solve issues affecting Florida's water and environment.
What do you think about the current state of Florida's water?
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