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 fecal coliform and enterococci bacteria, which are bacterial indicators 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.
– Double funding to the Florida Healthy Beaches Program. 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.
– Fully fund Florida Forever, Florida’s premiere land acquisition program, to improve and preserve water quantity and quality through permanent protection of Florida’s remaining natural areas.
– Co-sponsor HB 147 (Rep. Jacobs)- this good bill would require DEP to produce a comprehensive overview of Florida’s water resources and needs, including analysis of septic to sewer conversion, surface water improvement and management plans, and aging infrastructure.
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.
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.