History & Overview:
In 2000, the Florida Legislature created the Florida Healthy Beaches Program to test coastal water quality throughout the state. The program samples for enterococci bacteria, which is an indicator of poor water quality. Exposure to contaminated water can lead to gastroenteritis, respiratory illness, rashes, eye and ear ailments, and more.
Funding & History:
The Legislature funded the Florida Healthy Beaches Program with a $525,000 annually reoccurring appropriation. In 2011, however, state funding was cut from the beaches program which now relies exclusively on federal funding through the BEACH Act. After almost a decade of zero-funding, the Florida Legislature appropriated $500,000 to the Florida Healthy Beaches Program in 2019. This is a great start, but after years of neglect, harmful algal blooms, nutrient pollution, and spills from aging sewer systems– the Florida Healthy Beaches Program needs more funding.
Double funding for the Florida Healthy Beaches Program to $1 million annually. Until last year, this program received no state funding for nearly a decade. Now that funding is restored, it’s time to increase the appropriation to allow for increased water quality monitoring sites and year-round testing for the entire state.
What’s at stake:
Florida’s beaches and waterways are the lifeblood of our economy. In 2019, millions of gallons of sewage were reported entering our waterways across the State. Here are just a few examples of the program identifying water quality impairment in Broward, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, and Indian River counties.
It’s time for the Florida Legislature to double the funding to the Florida Healthy Beaches Program! Contact your legislators today and ask them to fully fund the Florida Healthy Beaches Program in 2020.