Lawmakers eye $5M in annual spending for Apalachicola Bay restoration
The Florida-Georgia water war is heating up, with Apalachicola Bay’s oyster fields on the line.

Apalachicola Bay
The bay once provided around 90% of Florida’s oysters.

Designated an area of critical state concern (ACSC) for nearly 40 years, a legislative proposal for Apalachicola Bay would allow for up to $5 million in spending a year by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to fund restoration.

“Apalachicola Bay is one of the most productive estuaries in the Northern Hemisphere, and is a major economic and ecologically important body of water to the eastern Gulf of Mexico,” said Port St. Joe Republican Rep. Jason Shoaf to the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee.

Subcommittee members voted unanimously to pass the bill.

The bay once provided around 90% of Florida’s oysters and 10% nationwide, but those numbers began declining in 2013. By 2020, the oyster population collapsed. A five-year suspension on wild oyster harvesting went into effect the same year.

HB 407 would allow for DEP, over five years, to enter into “financial assistance agreements with the City of Apalachicola to implement projects that improve surface water and groundwater quality within the Apalachicola Bay ACSC, including the construction of stormwater management facilities and central sewage collection facilities, installation of onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems, direct and indirect potable reuse, and other water quality and water supply projects,” according to the House staff analysis.

Governments and agencies in the Apalachicola Bay Area are presently required to coordinate plans and pursue programs and regulations abiding by a thorough set of principles.

Those include, “Water quality to be protected, maintained, and improved for public water supply, propagation of aquatic life, and recreational and other uses,” along with, “No wastes to be discharged into any waters of the Apalachicola Bay Area without first being given the degree of treatment necessary to protect water uses.”

Representatives from the city of Apalachicola and the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR) Florida waived in support. There was no debate on the legislation among members of the subcommittee.

The bill moves on to the House Infrastructure Strategies Committee.

Wes Wolfe

Wes Wolfe is a reporter who's worked for newspapers across the South, winning press association awards for his work in Georgia and the Carolinas. He lives in Jacksonville and previously covered state politics, environmental issues and courts for the News-Leader in Fernandina Beach. You can reach Wes at [email protected] and @WesWolfeFP. Facebook:

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