Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Mast are leading a bipartisan effort of Florida members of Congress to try to convince President Donald Trump to not zero out funding for a EPA program monitoring water quality related to the Everglades and other sensitive areas.
The South Florida Geographic Initiative, begun in 1992, measures and monitors phosphates and other pollutants from farms, ranches and development from the Florida Keys to the Indian River Lagoon, and from the Everglades to its headwaters in Central Florida.
Trump’s budget proposal zeros out federal funding for it.
The letter Wasserman Schultz of Weston and and Mast of Palm City wrote and sent to Trump Thursday also was signed by eight other Florida members of Congress: Republicans Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami and Carlos Curbelo of Kendall; and Democrats Val Demings of Orlando, Al Lawson of Tallahassee, Frederica Wilson of Miami Gardens, Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach, Ted Deutch of Boca Raton, and Alcee Hastings of Miramar.
“We urge you to reverse course and support funding for this vital piece of Florida’s – and our nations – conservation efforts, and we look forward to working with you to ensure its continued success,” the members of Congress wrote.
“For more than 20 years, the SFGI has been monitoring the threat of toxins such as mercury, phosphorus, and other potentially damaging nutrients in our ecologically-fragile region,” they argued. “The multibillion dollar federal and state partnership on Everglades restoration relies on SFGI data.
“The SFGI also supports water quality monitoring in our valuable estuaries and costal waters including Florida Bay, Biscayne Bay, the Caloosahatchee Estuary, and the Indian River Lagoon, as well as waters along the Florida Reef Tract from Martin County through the Florida Keys,” they added.