A Florida congressman is calling on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to work closely with the state government to monitor toxic algae.
At the end of last week, U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Fla., wrote Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, the chief of Engineers and commanding general of the orps of Engineers, “requesting federal cooperation with state agencies to monitor the application of glyphosate-based herbicides which can contribute to toxic algae growth.”
“In order to manage invasive plant growth, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) apply herbicides to waterways across the state. These glyphosate-based herbicides are comprised of 25 percent phosphorous, which feeds and prolongs Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs),” Rooney’s office noted.
Rooney pointed to the problems Florida experienced with toxic algae last year.
“In 2018, Florida’s waterways were afflicted with a serious outbreak of toxic algae which at its height, according to NOAA, covered nearly 90 percent of Lake Okeechobee,” Rooney said. “These HABs flow into the waterways and wreak havoc on our communities causing not only environmental damages, but also economic and health hazards. This ongoing issue has been affecting Florida for decades. We must seek solutions to the contributing factors, both large and small, that are feeding into the epidemic.
“As the Florida state agencies seek solutions that manage invasive plant growth without contributing to dangerous phosphorous levels, I ask that the Army Corps of Engineers monitor the status of this important issue, and that the Corps work alongside these agencies after a final decision has been reached to protect the water quality of our beautiful state,” Rooney added.
In the meantime, the FWC has stopped the application of glyphosate-based herbicides as it continues to review the matter.
Rooney was first elected to Congress in 2016 and is a key leader in the Climate Solutions Caucus which he cochairs with U.S. Rep. Ted Detuch, D-Fla.
Kevin Derby can be reached at Kevin.Derby@floridadaily.com.