Lawmakers Pass Legislation to Invest in Water Quality to Protect Florida’s Environment

TALLAHASSEE, FL (March 11, 2020) – The Florida Chamber of Commerce applauds the Florida Legislature for passing a bill that will help protect Florida’s environment by making long-term investments in water quality.

With 4.5 million more Floridians expected to call Florida home between now and 2030, there is an increasing need for protecting Florida’s natural resources.

Under SB 712 by Senator Debbie Mayfield, Florida is Investing in Water Quality by:

– Collecting improved water data,
– Eliminating the fringe legal philosophy known as the “rights of nature” movement that could undercut past and ongoing environmental restoration and protection efforts, and
– Increasing inspections and investing in septic to sewer conversions.

“The Florida Chamber has a long history of advocating for science-based, sustainable water policies in order to ensure Florida’s environmental and economic future. Investments in septic to sewer conversions represent an important step forward to protect Florida’s natural beauty which Floridians and our visitors treasure,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President, Florida Chamber of Commerce.

SB 712 also prevents the so-called “rights of nature” movement that would have given legal rights to some water bodies and give standing for nearly any person to sue an individual, organization, business or government for otherwise lawful activities.

Representative Bobby Payne, sponsor of the House companion bill (HB 1343), recently championed the importance of this legislation on the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line.

“I would say it’s a comprehensive package that really looks at how we’re going to address nutrient loading coming from our water bodies,” Representative Payne said. “Those loadings are coming from on-site sewage treatment systems, sanitary sewer overflows, domestic wastewater overflows, some agricultural BMPs that we need to tighten up and get some better records on. Let’s face it, we know we’re at a point, and the Governor pointed it out, if we don’t do some things now, we’ll continue to have problems in the future.”

The Florida Chamber thanks both Senator Mayfield, Representative Payne and Representative Blaise Ingoglia for their leadership in sponsoring this legislation.

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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 Florida Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

Investing in Water Quality Essential for Protecting Florida’s Environment, Representative Bobby Payne Says on Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line

TALLAHASSEE, Fla (March 5, 2020) – With 4.5 million more Floridians expected to call Florida home between now and 2030, long-term investments in water will be essential, Representative Bobby Payne says on the latest edition of the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line.

HB 1330, sponsored by Representative Bobby Payne, is specifically designed to protect the health of Florida’s water systems by collecting improved data, increasing inspections and investing in septic to sewer conversations.

“I would say it’s a comprehensive package that really looks at how we’re going to address nutrient loading coming from our water bodies,” Representative Payne said. “Those loadings are coming from on-site sewage treatment systems, sanitary sewer overflows, domestic wastewater overflows, some agricultural BNPs that we need to tighten up and get some better records on. Let’s face it, we know we’re at a point, and the Governor pointed it out, if we don’t do some things now, we’ll continue to have problems in the future.”

Representative Payne also discusses the importance of not allowing the “Rights of Nature” to have legal standing.

“This bill prohibits local communities, local municipalities, or districts from granting rights to trees or water bodies,” Representative Payne said. “Rights are granted to humans. Rights are of humans, they’re not of those things in nature.”

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Established in 1916 as Florida’s first statewide business advocacy organization, 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 Florida Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

State Budget News is Good for Environment and Infrastructure

Florida Legislature to Begin State Budget Negotiations

As we enter the final three weeks of the 2020 Legislative Session, lawmakers will soon begin budget negotiations.

The House and Senate have already passed their initial budgets, which provides insight into what the final budget will likely look like.

So far, the news is good for Florida’s infrastructure and environment. That’s especially important considering that 26 million people are expected to call Florida home by 2030, and understanding that long-term, sustainable water and environmental policies will be needed to meet our growing needs.

The Florida Department of Transportation’s budget will likely exceed $10 billion for another fiscal year. Florida is on track for record funding for environmental projects, which are broken out into smaller categories below.

SENATE (SB 2500)HOUSE (HB 5001)
FDOT$10.3 Billion$10.3 Billion
Everglades Restoration$31.9 Million$325 Million
Water Quality Improvements$198 Million$122 Million
Florida Forever$125 Million$23 Million
Springs Restoration$50 Million$50 Million
Broadband in M-CORES$5 Million$5 Million
Affordable Housing$387 Million$144 Million

The Florida Chamber will continue to advance and support long-term investments in Florida’s infrastructure and environment.

Share Your Feedback

If you have questions or feedback, please contact Christopher Emmanuel at cemmanuel@flchamber.com.

Environmental Permitting Summer School

Earn Continuing Education Credits at the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Premier Environmental Conference July 21-24 in Marco Island

The Annual Environmental Permitting Summer School is attended by more than 850 attorneys, consultants, engineers, state and local government officials, developers, landowners and others with a strong interest in environmental issues in Florida. Program features the most advanced and current instruction available on Florida’s environmental, energy and growth management laws, rules and programs.

The Environmental Permitting Summer School begins on Tuesday, July 21 with two Early Bird Discussion Sessions and concludes on Friday, July 24, 2020.

Choose a personalized curriculum by selecting 10 out of over 70 offered courses. Take advantage of the Chamber’s unique “break-out” format, which provides for small class sizes and the opportunity to interact with other attendees and instructors. Earn continuing education credits and enjoy numerous opportunities to network in a relaxed social setting with the leadership of Florida’s environmental community. In addition, you may register for the one of our Early Bird Discussion Sessions.

Who Should Attend?

• Attorneys
• Architects
• Landscape Architects
• Surveyors and Mappers
• Environmental Managers
• Elected Officials
• Property Appraisers
• Property Assessors
• Local Government
• Environmental Consultants
• Local Chambers
• Water Management Districts

• Builders and Contractors
• Business and Industry
• Engineers
• Planners
• Realtors
• Landowners
• Developers
• Citizen Groups
• Agribusiness
• Tax Assessors
• Economic Development Councils

Septic to Sewer Conversions in Florida Keys Have Improved Water Quality, and Stand as an Example for Improving Water North of Lake Okeechobee

TALLAHASSEE, FL (February 4, 2020) — Scientists, fishermen, and environmental leaders agree that the success of septic to sewer conversions in the Florida Keys is a shining example of how the same process could be used to improve water quality in the Everglades Basin extending north to Orlando.

As part of its ongoing environmental stewardship efforts to help secure Florida’s water future, the Florida Chamber of Commerce today released the latest in a series of educational videos featuring the research of Dr. Brian Lapointe, research Professor at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute.

Lawmakers are considering water quality bills this legislative session, including Senator Debbie Mayfield’s SB 712 that calls for converting from septic tanks to sewage treatment centers. The bill is expected to be heard Wednesday, in Senate Appropriations.

“With 4.5 million more people expected to call Florida home by 2030, and 50 million more visitors expected each year – on top of the 127 million that visited last year – ensuring Florida’s water future is sustainable and provides the quality of life Floridians and visitors deserve is vital,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Dr. Lapointe’s research of Looe Key Reef extend back 35 years, and shows the amounts of algae in the water have doubled since 1984.Point sources for increasing nitrogen in the water are traced to sewage and non-point sources coming from the Everglades Basin that extends north, all the way up to Orlando.

“What you clearly see from the data is that every time you dump more water into Florida Bay from the north, you get larger algae blooms,” Larry Brand, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Marine Biology and Economy, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science said.

But as local commercial fisherman Mike Laudicina explains, “Down in Key Haven off of Key West, which has had sewers from day one, the canals in there are like I remember (from early in his career), you could see the bottom, you could see the fish.”

“So regionally, the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Plan needs to be funded and implemented which calls for increased storage and treatment of water north of Lake Okeechobee, that will help protect Lake Okeechobee and the downstream waters in Florida Bay,” Lapointe explained.

The Florida Chamber has long advocated for long-term sustainable water and environmental policies, and since March 2016, has championed an educational partnership with Dr. Lapointe. 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.

Experts also featured in this educational video include:
Charles Patterson, Executive Director, Monroe County Land Authority
Captain Keith L. Douglass, Director of Facilities, Boy Scouts of America, High Adventure Sea Base
Bill Louda, Ph.D., Research Professor, Florida Atlantic University
James W. Miller, Florida Institute of Oceanography, Retired
Tommy Strowd, P.E., Director of Operations & Maintenance, Lake Worth Drainage District
Don Demaria, Commercial Fisherman

Securing Florida’s Water Future is a series of educational videos solely focused on ensuring Florida’s water future is sustainable and provides the quality of life Floridians and visitors deserve. Educational videos have focused on Indian River Lagoon, the Florida Keys, Southwest Florida, Florida’s Springs, the St. Lucie Estuary, the Kissimmee River, Caloosahatchee, and North of Lake Okeechobee.

For more information, please visit Securing Florida’s Water Future online.

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Established in 1916 as Florida’s first statewide business advocacy organization, 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 Florida Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

Your Local Lake or River Could Sue You? Not On Our Watch

Lawmakers Reject Extremist Efforts in Support of Environmental Stewardship

The high cost of living in Florida’s bottom five legal climate means Sunshine State families pay more than $4,442 in “lawsuit taxes” every year. The Florida Chamber knows that frivolous lawsuits are no way to run a business or a state.

Yet some environmental extremists want Floridians to be able to sue on behalf of Mother Nature, potentially costing Florida families even more. The so-called “rights of nature” movement would give legal rights to some water bodies and give standing for nearly any person to sue an individual, organization, business or government for otherwise lawful activities.

Thankfully, legislative committees this week – with support from the Florida Chamber – pushed back against these efforts by passing SB 1382 by Senator Ben Albritton and HB 1199 by Representative Blaise Ingoglia, which would stop this harmful legal doctrine in Florida. Thank you to Senator Albritton and Representative Ingoglia for leading on this important bill.

Unfortunately, allowing your local lake or river to sue you won’t be the only bad idea that surfaces this year.

Sign the Petition to Help Ensure Florida’s Water Future Is Sustainable

You can help by SIGNING THE PETITION for common sense solutions to solving Florida’s current and future water quality issues.

Florida Chamber Releases 2020 Jobs Agenda

FLORIDA CHAMBER’S 2020 JOBS AGENDA

Keeping Florida’s Momentum Going and Predicting 200,000 New Jobs in 2020

“Making Florida more competitive is essential for job and economic growth.”

MARK WILSON, President and CEO, Florida Chamber of Commerce

TALLAHASSEE, FL (January 13, 2020) – Job creators are gathering in Tallahassee this week with optimism that Florida can keep the momentum going, create 200,000 new jobs this year, and strengthen Florida’s economy even more through actions by the Florida Legislature and Governor Ron DeSantis. Additionally, job creators have released the Florida Chamber’s 2020 Jobs Agenda, commonly referred to as the Florida Business Agenda, which highlights where the Florida Chamber stands on key legislative decisions. 

Business leaders from throughout Florida are gathering this week at the Capitol as part of the Florida Chamber’s Annual Legislative Fly-In, and are sharing the Florida Chamber’s 2020 Jobs Agenda which will help create jobs, lower the cost of living and lift incomes – with the belief that Florida’s best days are yet to come.

The Florida Chamber is uniting the business community for good to:

– Lower the Cost of Living,
-Reduce the Cost of Doing Business, and
-Better Prepare for Florida’s Future Growth.

These are ideas outlined in Florida’s 2030 Blueprint, commonly known as Florida’s next Strategic Plan.

“The Florida Chamber’s annual jobs and competitiveness agenda – the Florida Business Agenda – is a set of priorities that will help grow private sector jobs, continue to create economic opportunity in Florida and further diversify our economy,” said Charles Caulkins, Chair of the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Partner at Fisher Phillips.

For the last nine years, Florida has outpaced the U.S. economy in job growth. As Florida will grow at approximately 900 new residents daily, Florida Chamber Foundation Chief Economist Dr. Jerry Parrish predicts that Florida will create 200,000 new jobs in 2020 and that the Sunshine State has a lower probability of recession than last year.

“If Florida was a stock, it would be considered a strong buy. While Florida’s economic outlook for 2020 is positive, it’s not without risks which is why passing the Florida Chamber’s Jobs Agenda is so important,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

The Florida Chamber’s 2020 Jobs Agenda Includes:

Lowering the Cost of Living:

Lawsuit abuse essentially amounts to additional taxes on Florida families over $4,000 each year. Florida’s lawsuit climate currently ranks 46 out of 50 in a national survey conducted by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform.

  • The Florida Legislature should improve Florida’s legal climate by passing common-sense reforms to curtail abuse of Florida’s legal system.

“If we make the legal climate so it’s based on the clients rather than the attorneys, I think that would be a better climate,” Governor Ron DeSantis said when the national survey ranking Florida’s lawsuit climate among the nation’s worst was released.

Reducing Florida’s Cost of Doing Business:

Discouraging and anti-competitive tax policies, like the Florida-only business rent tax and lack of internet sales tax collection, make Florida less competitive.

  • The Florida Legislature should advance globally competitive tax policies by reducing the Business Rent Tax and modernizing Florida’s tax code to collect sales tax on internet transactions from out-of-state retailers.

Preparing for the Future Growth:

According to www.TheFloridaScorecard.org, there are 284,800 jobs looking for people and 323,000 people looking for jobs. Finding a qualified workforce is a top concern for job creators. Employers need talent that is prepared to enter the workforce, and Florida wins when we close the talent gap.

The Florida Legislature should:

  • Continue to focus on early learning, talent and workforce shortage solutions. 
  • Continue to support the legislatively-created Talent Development Council to develop a coordinated, data-driven, statewide approach to meeting Florida’s needs for a 21st century workforce that employers and educators use as part of Florida’s talent supply system. This also supports Governor DeSantis’s efforts to have the number one workforce in America.

By 2030, 4.5 million more residents will call Florida home. A growing Florida means a growing need for forward-thinking infrastructure investments in Florida’s energy, water, transportation, telecommunications, agriculture and other hard and soft infrastructure sectors.

The Florida Chamber’s Infrastructure Coalition recommends that the Florida Legislature:

  • Continue to make long-term investments in energy, transportation, resiliency and water policy for Florida’s future.

Florida is currently experiencing a shortage of access to high-value, quality healthcare and that is a problem that will continue to grow as Florida’s population grows. That is why we support expanding scope of practice laws to allow for greater access to care, particularly in rural and underserved communities.

The Florida Chamber’s Healthcare Partnership encourages the Florida Legislature to:

  • Support expanding scope of practice for Advanced Practitioners and allow them to practice medicine to the full extent of their education and training.

“Year after year, the Florida Chamber has been at the forefront of solving issues that impact the competitiveness and future of Florida’s business climate. Our focus remains steadfast in our efforts to be the driving force uniting Florida’s business community for good, creating economic opportunity and growing jobs,” Wilson added.

The Florida Chamber will track each bill on the Florida Business Agenda, and votes will be used as the basis for grading lawmakers at the conclusion of the Legislative Session. We look forward to working with Governor DeSantis, Senate President Bill Galvano and Speaker of the House Jose Oliva to keep Florida’s momentum going.

The Florida Chamber’s 2020 Florida Business Agenda can be downloaded HERE.

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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 Florida Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

Bob Swindell: How to Ensure Florida Isn’t Left Behind

Planning Today Will Ensure Florida’s Future Infrastructure is Ready for Tomorrow

Bob Swindell, President of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance and Florida Chamber Foundation Trustee, recently shared with the South Florida Sun Sentinel the importance of preparing Florida’s infrastructure today to help ensure it’s ready for 2030. And with 4.5 million new residents expected to call Florida home by that timeframe, preparing for 2030 now will help ensure Florida’s national and global footprint remains competitive.

“Florida continues to rank as one of the best places to live, work and call home.

“We’re adding 900-plus new residents each day. Eight counties, including Broward, will account for 57 percent of this population increase.

“Things like water, sound roadways and common-sense infrastructure, are goals that Floridians can get behind.

“The Florida Chamber is uniting Florida’s business community for good, and is hosting job creators and industry experts for its annual Transportation, Growth & Infrastructure Summit on December 5 in Hollywood.

“Top transportation leaders … will share their vision and strategies to manage and anticipate current and future infrastructure needs in a county of 1.9 million residents that sits at the center of South Florida.

“The future of Florida’s infrastructure is vital to ensure Florida is prepared for 2030.”

Click here to read the letter.

Join Bob Swindell and other Florida business and industry leaders at the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Transportation, Growth and Infrastructure Summit on December 5th.

SPEAKER ANNOUNCEMENT: Florida’s First Resilience Officer

Is Florida resilient?
…And if not, what can we do about it?

Surrounded by water, Florida is considered by some as ground zero for sea level rise, natural disasters and aging infrastructure. What effect with this have on Florida’s economy and infrastructure?

Julia Nesheiwat, Ph.D.
Chief Resilience Officer
State of Florida

To address these issues, Governor Ron DeSantis appointed Dr. Julia Nesheiwat as the state’s first Chief Resilience Officer. Dr. Nesheiwat has over 20 years of renewable energy and environmental experience focused on water and natural resources as a senior executive in federal cabinet-level agencies, academia and as a combat veteran.

Register today to hear Dr. Nesheiwat during the 2019 Transportation, Growth & Infrastructure Summit taking place December 5 in Hollywood, Florida.

Summit attendees will also hear from the Florida Chamber Infrastructure Coalition, Trade Committees, Department of Transportation Secretary, Legislators and many others on how Florida will need to adapt and plan for Florida’s future.

Florida’s Small Businesses Point to Workforce Quality as Top Concern Keeping Them Up at Night

Despite Concern, Job Creators Anticipate Higher Sales

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (October 22, 2019) — Even though Florida is outpacing the national average in jobs created, workforce quality continues to be the top concern among Florida small businesses, according to the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s Fourth Quarter Small Business Index Survey. This is the 10th quarter out of 11 that small businesses have ranked this issue among their top concern. Despite this concern, job creators expect higher sales than last year.

“It is likely that Florida will continue to outpace the U.S. in terms of job growth in 2020,” said Dr. Jerry Parrish, Chief Economist and Director of Research at the Florida Chamber Foundation. “Although Florida’s small businesses are not quite as optimistic about their outlook for the economy as in past surveys, 70 percent of them expect to have higher sales next year than during the previous year.” See additional commentary from Chief Economist Dr. Jerry Parrish in his latest By The Numbers program.

While the probability of a recession is improving, according to the latest data on TheFloridaScorecard.org, economic uncertainty remains a top small business owner concern, survey results reveal. Despite this concern, Florida’s overall economy is robust and expanding, and in fact, it has become the 16th most diversified economy in the country, and unemployment numbers continue to decline.

The Florida Chamber’s Fourth Quarter Small Business Index Survey shows small businesses are most concerned about:

  1. Workforce Quality – 28%
  2. Economic Uncertainty – 14%
  3. Growth Management Process – 12%
  4. Healthcare Costs – 9%
  5. Government Regulation – 8%

Of Florida’s small businesses:

  • 49 percent of respondents expect the economy to improve over the next three years,
  • 41 percent of responders believe their business is better off now than it was just six months ago, and
  • 41 percent of businesses have plans to make investments in plants or equipment, down from 43 percent one year ago.

“Workforce quality continues to be the number one concern of Florida’s small businesses, with economic uncertainty coming in second,” said Glenda Hood, Chair of the Florida Chamber’s Small Business Council, and Founding Partner, Hood Partners. “Small businesses are the foundation of Florida’s economy, and the Florida Chamber’s Small Business Council remains committed to advocating on their behalf.”

About the Survey:

The Florida Chamber’s Small Business Index Survey was conducted electronically September 10 through October 14, 2019. Thirty-four percent of respondents employ less than five employees, while 49 percent employ five to 49 employees. Click HERE to view the full report.

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Established in 1916 as Florida’s first statewide business advocacy organization, 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 Florida Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

2019 Future of Florida Forum: Why You Want a Seat at the Table

Florida Chamber of Commerce President Mark Wilson invites you to join Florida’s leaders as we discuss the issues that will impact the future of your community and Florida’s economy.

Join Florida leaders as we discuss:

• Florida’s rapidly changing economic, demographic and political changes and how they impact your future,
• Where Florida’s growth will be and in what industries,
• Florida’s key trends, headwinds, tailwinds and key projections,
• The latest leadership strategies to solve Florida’s talent gap,
• Fixing Florida’s broken lawsuit abuse problem,
• Preparing Florida’s infrastructure and transportation systems for growth,
• Promoting economic opportunity for all Floridians, and more!

Future of Florida Forum
October 28-29, 2019
Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
Orlando

2020 Florida Business Leaders’ Summit on Prosperity and Economic Opportunity

Did you know more than 3 million Floridians live in poverty? Of those, more than 260,000 are under age 5.

Join business and industry leaders as well as elected officials and community voices us as we analyze a path to prosperity for each of Florida’s zip codes. We will also discuss best practices around the state, how they can be replicated and more. Conversations will also focus around 10 topic areas that the Florida Chamber Foundation’s research shows are: Jobs, Education, Housing, Health, Food, Safety, Child care, Justice, Transportation and Agency-Community voice.

Florida Business Leaders Summit on Prosperity and Economic Opportunity
May 19, 2020
The Westin Sarasota
Sarasota, Florida

To have your logo featured here, click here or contact Aaron Kinnon at AKinnon@FlFoundation.org.

ICYMI: Water Quality Issues Highlight Need to Address Local Water Pollution

It’s poopy water, not sharks, that’s attacking Florida’s beaches.” (Palm Beach Post)

TALLAHASSEE, FL (August 16, 2019) – The Florida Chamber of Commerce, as part of its ongoing environmental stewardship efforts to help secure Florida’s water future, is highlighting the importance of addressing local water quality concerns.

“With 4.5 million more people expected to call Florida home by 2030, and 50 million more visitors expected each year – on top of the 124.6 million that visited last year – ensuring Florida’s water future is sustainable and provides the quality of life Floridians and visitors deserve is vital,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Yet news headlines across the country are showing parts of Florida at its worse – sewage contaminants posing health risks in local communities.

ICYMI: Here’s a snapshot of recent news highlighting Florida’s need to take action on human contaminants – sewage that often comes from faulty septic tanks and wastewater treatment plants.

  • “There’s ‘poop in the water’ at America’s dirtiest beaches…” and five of them are in Florida. (USA Today
  • “So even though you don’t have pipes that directly connect your toilet with your refrigerator, pollution and inadequate sewage systems and waste disposal may in effect be doing so….It’s time to take water pollution more seriously and stop treating our bodies of water like giant toilet bowls.”  The report found that 180 of the 263 beaches tested in Florida “had potentially unsafe levels of fecal contamination on at least a day.” (Forbes)
  • “Safe swimming is out of the question in four Florida waterways because the Department of Health says there is too much poop in them.” (Miami Herald)
  • “In Miami-Dade alone, we’ve had several alerts of high levels of fecal matter — better known as poop — in some of the most popular beaches: Crandon Park, South Beach, and… Bal Harbour and Haulover.” (Miami Herald)
  • With five months to go in 2019, Florida is looking to set a disgusting new record. We’re spilling more sewage, and it’s even worse than it sounds. Tampa Bay alone has already dumped 6.5 times more sewage in 2019 than in all of 2018, almost 400,000 gallons of poop so far. (Orlando Weekly)
  • It’s poopy water, not sharks, that’s attacking Florida’s beaches. (Palm Beach Post)
  • Please stop pooping on the spoil islands in the Indian River Lagoon, FDEP asks. (TC Palm)
  • Sarasota beach issues ‘No Swim Advisory’ after high levels of poop detected. (Creative Loafing Tampa Bay)

The Florida Chamber has long advocated for long-term sustainable water and environmental policies, and since March 2016, has championed an educational partnership with Dr. Brian Lapointe, Research Professor at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute.

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.

Securing Florida’s Water Future is a series of educational videos solely focused on ensuring Florida’s water future is sustainable and provides the quality of life Floridians and visitors deserve. Educational videos have focused on Indian River Lagoon, the Florida Keys, Southwest Florida, Florida’s Springs, the St. Lucie Estuary, the Kissimmee River, Caloosahatchee, and more. The latest education video highlights water north of Lake Okeechobee.

For more information, please visit Securing Florida’s Water Future online.

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Established in 1916 as Florida’s first statewide business advocacy organization, 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 Florida Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

Governor Ron DeSantis Announces $16.2 Million in Awards to Improve Infrastructure in 24 Small and Rural Florida Communities

Tallahassee, Fla. – On July 23, Governor Ron DeSantis announced $16.2 million in awards for 24 small and rural communities across the state through the Florida Small Cities Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. The program, administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), helps communities fund infrastructure improvements and housing rehabilitation.

The Florida Small Cities Community Development Block Grant program is a partnership between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and DEO.

“I’m pleased to announce $16.2 million in infrastructure funding for 24 small and rural communities throughout our state,” said Governor DeSantis. “Infrastructure development is the life-line for economic growth in many areas and we will continue to work with our federal partners on building a stronger, more resilient Florida.”

“Under Governor DeSantis’ leadership, we remain focused on small and rural communities by making smart strategic housing and infrastructure investments,” said Ken Lawson, Executive Director of DEO. “Through partnership programs like the Florida Small Cities Community Development Block Grant program, we will continue to make lasting local advancements to fuel economic growth in Florida communities.”

The projects awarded through the Florida Small Cities CDBG program include:

  • Calhoun County ($750,000) – to improve existing county roads, drainage and to install fire hydrants. These projects are expected to benefit nearly 100 households including more than 80 low- to moderate-income households.
  • City of Archer ($650,000) – to provide low- to moderate-income households with necessary housing repairs or construction of a portion of the home.
  • City of Bonifay ($650,000) – to rehabilitate four city-owned buildings to bring them up to current building codes with new roofs and interior renovations.
  • City of Bushnell ($700,000) – to rehabilitate the aging, antiquated Lift Station #6 and to repave several roads including Central Avenue, Parker Avenue, Hunt Avenue, West Street and York Street. These projects are expected to benefit nearly 500 residents of which more than 350 are low- to moderate-income.
  • City of Coleman ($600,000) – to replace 300 existing water meters with new, improved meters with a monitoring system at all existing water meter locations. This project is expected to benefit more than 700 individuals of which more than 520 are low- to moderate-income.
  • City of Cottondale ($600,000) – to completely replace drinking water lines in 10 different locations of the city. This project is expected to benefit 200 individuals of which more than 150 are low- to moderate-income.
  • City of Fellsmere ($700,000) – to pave and make flood and drainage improvements along streets and to install a swale drain. This project is expected to benefit multiple homes of which most are low- to moderate-income. Funds will be used also to install a city-wide skate park to be used by more than 5,000 individuals of which more than 3,600 are low- to moderate-income.
  • City of Graceville ($650,000) – to renovate the city’s wastewater treatment plant, upgrade the electrical system and restore an associated water treatment site. This project is expected to benefit nearly 2,500 individuals of which more than half are low- to moderate-income.
  • City of Groveland ($700,000) – to rehabilitate, or demolish and replace, low- to moderate-income household homes that do not meet current building code standards, and to address code-related issues, health and safety measures and green rehabilitation standards.
  • City of Jasper ($700,000) – to replace water service meters with new improved meters with a monitoring system. This project is expected to benefit more than 2,200 individuals of which more than 1,600 are low- to moderate-income.
  • City of Marianna ($700,000) – to replace the West End Lift Station, make improvements to an existing roadway, make flood and drainage improvements, make waterline upgrades and add a new fire hydrant along Evelyn Road.
  • City of Milton ($700,000) – to replace water lines, make drainage improvements and resurface roads in various locations in the city. These projects are expected to benefit more than 200 residents of which more than half are low- to moderate-income.
  • City of Monticello ($700,000) – to rehabilitate, or demolish and replace, low- to moderate-income household homes that do not meet current building code standards, and to address code-related issues, health and safety measures and green rehabilitation standards.
  • City of Mulberry ($700,000) – to relocate and replace the sewer line lift station, to be constructed on city-owned property located north of the existing pumping station. This project is expected to benefit more than 400 individuals of which nearly all are low- to moderate-income.
  • City of Niceville ($700,000) – to rehabilitate, or demolish and replace, low- to moderate-income household homes that do not meet current building code standards, and to address code-related issues, health and safety measures and green rehabilitation standards.
  • Holmes County ($750,000) – to rehabilitate, or demolish and replace, low- to moderate-income household homes that do not meet current building code standards, and to address code-related issues, health and safety measures and green rehabilitation standards.
  • Putnam County ($750,000) – to rehabilitate, or demolish and replace, homes of low- to moderate-income household homes that do not meet current building code standards, and to address code-related issues, health and safety measures and green rehabilitation standards.
  • Town of Callahan ($650,000) – to install water mains to increase system operating pressures, and to improve firefighting capabilities and system reliability. This project is expected to benefit more than 1,300 individuals of which more than half are low- to moderate-income.
  • Town of Greensboro ($650,000) – to repave streets and make flood and drainage improvements in various locations throughout town. This project is expected to benefit more than 300 individuals of which nearly all are low- to moderate-income.
  • Town of Hillard ($700,000) – to replace water and sewer lines and install an emergency electrical generator at the Oxford Street lift station. This project is expected to benefit more than 1,100 individuals of which nearly 600 are low- to moderate-income.
  • Town of Mayo ($650,000) – to rehabilitate, or demolish and replace, low- to moderate-income household homes that do not meet current building code standards, and to address code-related issues, health and safety measures and green rehabilitation standards.
  • Town of Micanopy ($600,000) – to drill a new well, install a new well pump and make electrical improvements. This project is expected to benefit nearly 700 individuals of which nearly all are low- to moderate-income.
  • Town of Oakland ($600,000) – to fund the installation of new gravity sewer lines, septic tanks and new sewer services. This project is expected to benefit more than 40 occupied homes of which more than half are low- to moderate-income.
  • Town of Pierson ($650,000) – to make water tank, well and treatment plant improvements including the development of a second well field and water treatment plant at Chipper Jones Park. This project is expected to benefit more than 1,750 individuals of which nearly 1,400 are low- to moderate-income.

For more information on the Florida Small Cities Community Development Block Grant program, visit FloridaJobs.org/SmallCitiesCDBG.

Latest Florida Chamber of Commerce Educational Water Videos Echoes Landmark Florida Keys Coral Research Showing Nutrient-Supercharged Water From North of Lake Okeechobee Contributing to Water Quality Concerns

Tallahassee, Fla. (July 18, 2019) – On the heels of a landmark 30-year study of ailing Florida Keys coral showing nutrient-supercharged water from as far north as Orlando contributing to the harmful impacts on our coral reefs, the Florida Chamber of Commerce today released the latest in a series of educational water videos which points to 97 percent of water going into Lake Okeechobee coming from north of the lake – Kissimmee, and most of the contaminated water originating on the northwest side. 

The just-released coral research, and the Florida Chamber’s 11th in a series of educational water videos, were led by top FAU-Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Research Professor Dr. Brian Lapointe.

“When it comes to securing Florida’s future, there are few issues more important than water,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber. “With 4.5 million more people expected to call Florida home by 2030, science-based data is key to meeting the challenges Florida faces.” 

The educational water video also features water and environmental leaders, including:

  • Dale Gawlik, PH.D., Professor and Director of Environmental Science, Florida Atlantic University
  • Nyla Pipes, Executive Director, One Florida Foundation
  • Tommy Strowd, P.E., Director of Operations & Maintenance, Lake Worth Drainage District
  • Newton Cook, President, United Waterfowlers Florida
  • Jeff Couch, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Bill Louda, PH.D., Research Professor, Florida Atlantic University
  • Marty McKenna, citrus grower

The latest video was released in conjunction with the Florida Chamber’s Environmental Permitting Summer School, happening this week in Marco Island.  

Click HERE to view the entire series of educational water videos. 

To learn more about the latest coral research, visit the Palm Beach PostNational Public Radio, the Key West CitizenUPI and the journal Marine Biology.