Florida Chamber and FAU Research Professor Announce Education Partnership to Help Secure Florida’s Water Future

By: Edie Ousley

 “To secure Florida’s water future, we really have to follow science; science has to lead the way.”

– Dr. Brian Lapointe

TALLAHASSEE, FL (March 28, 2016) – As part of its ongoing efforts to help secure Florida’s water future, the Florida Chamber of Commerce today announces an educational partnership with Dr. Brian Lapointe, Research Professor at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute.

With six million more residents expected to call Florida home by 2030, and our state’s water demand expected to increase by 20 percent by 2030, strong, science-based water quality standards will continue to play a vital role in Florida’s economy and quality of life.

During the recently completed legislative session, lawmakers passed – and Governor Rick Scott signed into law – comprehensive and sustainable Florida Chamber-backed water policy. Further building on those efforts, the Florida Chamber’s water education campaign will help strengthen public awareness by educating employers and employees on how septic tank pollution threatens local waterways.

“Dr. Lapointe’s scientific research shows that septic tank sewage nitrogen is a smoking gun that threatens many of Florida’s waterways, including the Indian River Lagoon,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “At the Florida Chamber, we remain committed to Florida’s environment, and look forward to sharing Dr. Lapointe’s research and further securing Florida’s water future.”

Dr. Lapointe has extensive experience in water quality research in South Florida and the Caribbean region. His research has led to greater nutrient removal from sewage effluents in Monroe County, his long-term water quality monitoring at Looe Key reef in the Florida Keys represents the longest low-level nutrient record for a coral reef anywhere in the world.

Dr. Lapointe’s work in Florida Bay and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in the 1990s, which utilized stable nitrogen isotopes to “fingerprint” nitrogen sources, was the first to demonstrate the importance of agricultural nitrogen from mainland sources to development of algal blooms in the Keys.

“I’ve been studying issues surrounding marine pollution and various land-based sources that contribute to the problems we’re seeing around the state,” said Dr. Lapointe. “This is a whole new paradigm shift for me, to take what I’ve learned over 30 years and educate the public about these issues, and they’re big issues.”

In a recent edition of  The Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line public affairs program, Dr. Lapointe explains that many of the main sources of pollution are not realized by the public. For example, septic tanks are a major source of pollution in Florida that people do not often recognize as harmful.

“We have so many opinions around the state as to the various factors that may be causing things like the brown tide in the Indian River Lagoon, or the problems we’re seeing in the St. Lucie estuary or Florida Bay,” said Dr. Lapointe. “But, it really comes back to not using political or expedient solutions to these problems, which can often times make the problems worse. It is really looking at cause and effect and we really need to use the best science available to find out the causes of these problems.”

 

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The Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations, aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and every region. The Florida Chamber works within all branches of government to affect those changes set forth in the annual Florida Business Agenda, and which are seen as critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.