Brian Mast Unveils the PROTECT Florida Act to Defend Waterways

This week, U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., brought out a bill to ensure the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has public health front and center as it works on waterways in Florida.

On Monday, Mast showcased the “Prioritizing Revised Operations To Eliminate Cyanobacteria Toxins in Florida (“PROTECT Florida”) Act which “requires the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to prioritize public health, including prevention of toxic cyanobacteria, the integrity of the Herbert Hoover Dike, Everglades restoration and tribal water quality laws.”

Mast weighed in on why he had introduced the proposal.

“The EPA has now confirmed that the water in Lake Okeechobee and the water that gets discharged to our coasts is frequently unsafe for human contact. Last summer, it tested more than 60 times too toxic to touch in Stuart,” Mast said. “We absolutely should not tolerate mismanagement of Florida’s waterways that results in putting people’s lives at risk. Everybody’s health and safety has to be prioritized, and that’s exactly what this bill will do.”

Despite toxic algae and the problems it has caused the Sunshine State, Mast’s office insisted “the Army Corps’ operational priorities do not currently consider impacts to human health” and its “outdated operational priorities have resulted in communities throughout Florida being exposed to dangerously high levels of toxins when the Army Corps discharges water from Lake Okeechobee.’

Mast and his proposal drew the applause from environmental leaders.

“The completion of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan is decades away and Florida can’t wait to solve our toxic water crisis,” Friends of the Everglades Executive Director Alex Gillen said. “By changing the priorities for how we move water around the system, we will take advantage of our existing infrastructure to protect Floridian’s health, environment, and economy. This bill is the most important bill for Southern Florida’s water management in over 70 years.”

U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fla., is cosponsoring the bill.

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

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