Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., recently joined Norcross Marine Products CEO Greg Lentine and members of the South Florida Water Management for a boat ride along the St. Lucie River to view the devastation caused by the algae bloom.
The senator urged President Obama on Thursday to approve Gov. Rick Scott’s request for a federal emergency declaration in response to the algal blooms stemming from Lake Okeechobee discharges.
“After seeing the catastrophic situation firsthand this past Friday, the proposed declaration and the resources that will accompany it are sorely needed,” Rubio wrote in the letter.
“Although the Army Corps of Engineers has decreased the amount of discharges, unfortunately, the end of this problem is nowhere in sight. I remain concerned for the health of residents and visitors, who have reported headaches, respiratory problems and rashes, among other ailments,” Rubio wrote. “Additionally, businesses that rely on these waters have also greatly suffered — not only from these harmful algal blooms but also what they have been experiencing all year as a result of the continued discharges from Lake Okeechobee.”
The National Marine Manufacturers Association says the current situation is the result of “decades of bad public policy that has created a long history of Everglades mismanagement. Efforts to reverse the damage of these activities have now been underway in varying degrees for almost 20 years.”
“This is a serious access issue for boaters in the affected waterway, making it more important than ever that Congress pass the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) to get the necessary funding to this area,” the NMMA wrote in its newsletter. “NMMA will continue to support the Congressional passage of WRDA and will report on this issue as new information is available.”