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Waltz Amendment to Improve Indian River Lagoon Waterways Passes Unanimously

On Wednesday, the U.S. House Science, Space and Technology Committee unanimously passed an amendment from Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) to protect Florida’s waterways and include the Indian River Lagoon as part of the South Florida Clean Coastal Waters Act, a bill sponsored by Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.) in the House and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in the Senate.

"As Floridians, water is integral to our way of life,” Waltz said. “I’m thankful for the leadership of Rep. Mast, Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Ron DeSantis, who have all made clean water a priority. This is a statewide issue affecting many areas in Florida, including the St. Johns River in my district and the Indian River Lagoon. If we want to keep our waterways beautiful, we must act to protect them.”

The South Florida Clean Coastal Waters Act directs the task force to complete an assessment that examines the causes, consequences and potential approaches to reduce harmful algal blooms and hypoxia in the Greater Everglades region, including how ongoing South Florida ecosystem restoration efforts are impacting the distribution of algal blooms. Based on the assessment, the task force is then directed to submit a plan to Congress for reducing, mitigating and controlling harmful algal blooms in the Greater Everglades region.

Waltz’s amendment ensures regional coastal waters like the Indian River Lagoon, Biscayne Bay, the Caloosahatchee Estuary, Florida Bay and the Florida Reef Tract are included in the assessment.

“It’s ridiculous that a federal program specifically designed to combat harmful algal blooms has never done an Everglades-specific analysis,” said Mast. “So that’s exactly what we’re going to do with this bill: the first-ever specific federal action plan to combat harmful algal blooms in Florida.”

"Communities across Florida continue to be impacted by harmful algae bloom outbreaks. Congress must act to focus federal resources on understanding both our blue-green algae and red tide problems, as well as developing an Action Plan with the state to help develop a roadmap to solve these challenges," Rubio said. "I commend Congressman Mast, who is leading the companion bill to my South Florida Clean Coastal Waters Act, Congressman Waltz and members of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee for taking action so that we can meet these challenges with the resources they require."

“This is just one step for our ongoing effort to keep our waterways clean,” said Waltz. “I'm glad to join Rep. Mast and Sen. Rubio to improve our water quality and look forward to this bill’s passage in both chambers very soon."