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WATER QUALITY ACTIONS
Proposed Sarasota County Democratic Party actions addressing Piney Point, Phosphate Mining and Other Water Pollution:
We propose SCDP the following actions:
· Establish an initiative to educate citizens regarding potential water hazards and to contact their representatives (local, state, federal, as applicable) to resolve water pollution issues through a personalized letter-writing campaign; the first effort will contact residents to pressure Sarasota County commissioners to oppose Mosaic’s proposed mine in DeSoto County for its potential to contaminate Sarasota County’s drinking water, and will lay the groundwork for future messaging.
· Apply pressure to state legislative representatives to ensure they make the work of the Clean Waterways Act Stormwater Rulemaking Technical Advisory Committee, FDEP, and the WMDs a priority to expedite ERP stormwater design criteria rule revisions, and to move quickly to approve the revised rule once it is complete.
· Provide comment to each regulatory agency (eg: DeSoto County, FDEP, USACE, SWFWMD, etc.) processing Mosaic's New Wales and DeSoto County mine permit applications during their staff review process and during the public comment period associated with each permit authorization.
· Work with the Communications Committee to develop a PR campaign including press releases and articles for Mailchimp newsletters for Precinct Captains to disseminate on the issue of Piney Point, gypstacks, Mosaic, phosphate mining and its connection to contamination of our bay, aquifer, potable water, air, land and human and wildlife health and mortality, and on other water quality concerns.
· Conduct an ongoing letters-to-the-editor campaign on water pollution resulting from phosphate mining, and runoff from big ag including the sugar industry
· Have one of our leaders pen an op-ed on the current situation with Piney Point, its connection to Red Tide and the threats posed by the 25 gypstacks.
· Ask that a fund be established to help promote a paid media campaign on the issue of water quality
· Utilize documentaries and other tools to educate and activate people by organizing showings followed by discussions for different community and political action organizations.
· Develop targeted leaflets for different neighborhoods showing how our water, air and land are being contaminated by multiple sources.
· Coordinate with environmental organizations that are currently involved in litigation against Governor Ron DeSantis, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, HRK Holdings, LLC and the Manatee County Port Authority for the Piney Point disaster and their failure to protect Floridians and our wildlife from its contamination of our waters, land and air.
Resolution on Piney Point, Phosphate Mining and Other Water Pollution
WHEREAS Floridians have an inherent right to clean water for drinking, bathing, and recreation, clean air for breathing, and uncontaminated land for habitation; and
WHEREAS water quality is a nonpartisan issue affecting every resident; and
WHEREAS the quality of Florida’s water resources is declining from non-point surface runoff, inadequate regulatory design criteria for stormwater ponds, inadequate wastewater treatment facilities and sewage “spills”, runoff from big agriculture including the sugar industry, and phosphate mining; and
WHEREAS in 2010 former Governor Rick Scott, the Legislature, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection(FDEP) and Water Management Districts (WMDs) failed to enact revised Environmental Resource Permitting (ERP) Rules in response to research demonstrating inefficiencies in ERP design criteria for stormwater ponds thereby allowing for the continued issuance of permits that may not improve water quality to a potential maximum; and
WHEREAS Sarasota County discharged treated reclaimed wastewater high in nitrogen into Sarasota Bay from 2013 to 2019, and these violations are being corrected by activities required by Consent Order with the FDEP, and the most recent survey indicates there has been an 18% (2313 acres) decline in seagrass coverage in Sarasota Bay; and
WHEREAS seagrass decline and algae growth are linked with biodiversity decline and unprecedented manatee mortality; and
WHEREAS state officials have drafted a permit to authorize a 230 acre expansion of the sinkhole-prone New Wales gypstack that leaked 215 million gallons of wastewater into the Floridan aquifer; and
WHEREAS Gov. Ron DeSantis,the acting secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, HRK Holdings, LLC, and the Manatee County Port Authority are responsible for the release of up to 480 million gallons of wastewater containing hazardous pollutants from the Piney Point phosphogypsum stack into Tampa Bay and groundwater following years of regulatory failures and mismanagement; and
WHEREAS Piney Point is just one of 25 dangerous gypstacks in Florida and the state has failed to protect our water, wildlife, and communities from the hazards of phosphogypsum; and
WHEREAS in the aftermath of Piney Point, Tampa and Sarasota Bays are experiencing harmful algae blooms, fish kills, and other wildlife mortality, and algae blooms can be detrimental to human health; and
WHEREAS there are short and long term health consequences including lung cancer from phosphogypsum waste; and
WHEREAS there has been no process developed to safely detoxify and dispose of the phosphogypsum waste and proposed deep-well injection is risky because it can contaminate our aquifers with migrating toxic pollutants, which provide drinking water for 10 million or more Floridians; and
WHEREAS Piney Point remains at risk of catastrophic failure, and the other 24 gypstacks all pose serious health and environmental hazards; and
WHEREAS southwest Florida tourism lost $184 million after the 2018 red tide blooms, red tide has reoccurred, and the estimated $57.9 billion regional economic value of Sarasota Bay is jeopardized by continued regulatory failures, now, therefore, be it
BE IT RESOLVED, the Sarasota County Democratic Party lobby our state legislators to pass legislation that prioritizes public health and safety over corporate profit.
FURTHERMORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Sarasota County Democratic Party will work to educate the public about reducing nonpoint sources of pollution and such outreach efforts may include coordination with local environmental organizations.
FURTHERMORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Sarasota County Democratic will apply pressure to Sarasota County Commissioners to ensure adequate funding is allocated and maintained to convert existing wastewater treatment facilities to advanced wastewater treatment facilities and to identify and implement additional water quality improvement projects in Sarasota.
FURTHERMORE BE IT RESOLVED, the Sarasota County Democratic will liaison and collaborate with area environmental organizations on mutual efforts to win the battle on regulating the phosphate industry and protecting our water, land and air from the problems it causes.
FURTHERMORE BE IT RESOLVED, the Sarasota County Democratic will develop a campaign strategy, literature and slogans to help elect Democrats in 2022 around the issue of protecting our environment from Republican deregulation, corruption and failed leadership.
RESOLVED, the Sarasota County Democratic Party and the Environmental Caucus of Sarasota County Democrats is committed to vigorously promoting measures to protect our biosphere, our Suncoast environment, and its biodiversity including the health of its human and wildlife inhabitants.