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Health News Florida

Gov. DeSantis Puts Together Panel To Study Florida's Algae Woes

A green algae bloom in Palatka is pictured in this file photo.
A green algae bloom in Palatka is pictured in this file photo.

Ahead of Florida’s summer growing months, scientists picked by Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday weighed issues from septic tanks to farm production feeding the state’s nationally publicized algae troubles.

“The goal is simply to ask ... ‘What can we do to achieve more now and how can we do better?’” Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein told members of the Blue-Green Algae Task Force as they met for the first time.

WJCT News partner The Florida Times-Union reports although DeSantis created the panel during a push to improve water quality around Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades, problems in the St. Johns River and other corners of the state filled parts of the day-long discussion.

“I don’t want people to walk away from this meeting thinking our sole focus is on South Florida,” Tom Frazer, the state’s chief science officer, told the five other PhDs appointed to the panel. “Our intention is to pay attention to all the areas impacted by blue-green algae.”

The task force’s thoughts could become important to communities around the state dogged by blooms that can produce toxins and create health hazards that damage tourism and businesses built around boating and fishing.

DeSantis said in January the panel should focus on recommendations for curbing algae blooms “now and over the next five years,” and state officials could use members’ guidance in the next few months to rethink their approach to deciding which clean-water projects to fund.

An expanded version of this story is available at Jacksonville.com.

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