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Response to Water Quality Questions: Alanis Elizabeth Garcia, Candidate for State Representative District 77, D
October 9, 2018

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Water Quality Questions response:

1. Do you believe that fertilizer/nutrient runoff feeds Red Tide and makes the blooms larger and last longer.

Yes

2. Do you believe that Florida should have a state-funded task force to study the causes and preventative actions, in Florida, of fertilizer/nutrient runoff

Yes

3. What impact on our water quality do the large dairy farms with over 40,000 dairy cows in our watershed have and what are other states doing better than Florida to reduce runoff from dairies

The percentage of the amount of damage they do to our watershed is disputed but they are a significant source of nutrients. Florida doesn't mandate good practices for handling nutrients from dairy farms, such as requiring them to use their own manure for feed crop fertilizer

4. The Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee is rated as DSAC-1, the worst of the 6 levels of safety. If the dike failed flooding the area south, east, and west with nutrient-rich waters:

A: What would be the economic impact of a dike failure on the state-owned Citizens Property Insurance

It would far exceed the amount of reserves the CPI has in reserve. This would trigger tax increases to make up the difference.

B: What would be the impact on the Native American Nation's lands south of Lake Okeechobee?

Their lands would be flooded.

C: What would the legal liability of Florida based on the agreements with the Native American Nations be?

D: Studies show the Everglades would be irreparably, permanently damaged if the dike failed. Do you agree

Yes

E: Will the current work being done on the dike result in a higher safety DSAC rating?

It will

F: Will the current work being done of the dike result in being able to hold more water in Lake Okeechobee?

Yes

5. Phosphorus is one of the main "growth limiting" nutrients of red tide and toxic blue/green algae. It is estimated that 600 metric tons of phosphorus are being added to Lake Okeechobee each year from the North from Agricultural runoff and human waste.

A: Dairy farms and sod farms are two of the largest single point sources of nutrient runoff in our watershed. What would you do to reduce the runoff from these two sources?

For the dairy farms regulations to require use of own manure for feed crops.

For the sod farms, the best would be to allow the loosening of local yard compliance codes in ways that would allow residents to use more Florida natural landscaping, which would result in less sod use.

Finally for both and other agricultures add requirements that manure used in farming not be spread on the top of the ground but instead injected into the ground. This keeps the fertilizer where it is needed and greatly reduces runoff.

B: Over 30 percent of Florida residents use septic systems. Are you in favor of a state law requiring a minimum of 1 inspection and pump out of septic systems and the requirement that the system be working properly during home sales.

Yes

C: Over 50,000 metric tons of phosphorus are in the muck at the bottom of Lake Okeechobee. Passing storms and hurricanes stir up the phosphorus and make the discharges from Lake Okeechobee laden with more nutrients that feed the red tide and toxic algae. What do you propose to do to reduce the nutrients that are in the muck of Lake Okeechobee.

Dredge the soil and either clean it up for placement back into the lake or replace with clean soil. But we need to reduce the amount of nutrients going into the lake otherwise it will just build up again.

6. Lake Okeechobee water contains an average of 120 parts per billion of phosphorus (feeds the toxic algae.) The limiting factor in sending more water south is the requirement for the water to be less than 15 parts per billion phosphorus.

A: Will reducing the nutrient rich runoff into Lake Okeechobee make it easier to clean the water in the Stormwater Treatment area and allow more water to be sent south?

Yes

B: With the new reservoirs and Stormwater Treatment areas that are planned to be completed by 2025 how much more water will be able to send south during the rainy season and during the dry season. (percentage of total discharges.)

63%

C: What are the impacts of storing a higher level of water in Lake Okeechobee during the wet season.

The higher the water level the more likely of a chance of a failure in the Hoover Dike. Having a high level in the wet season increases the chances that the discharges from the lake will not meet the incoming flow amount and cause a further rise in the level of the lake.

D: What are the impacts of storing more water in Lake Okeechobee in the dry season?

Generally speaking when there is more water in the lake, there is more of the phosphorus stirred up from the bottom and the higher the concentration of it is. This is harmful to both the flora and fauna surrounding the lake, some of which helps clean up the phosphorus.

E: What are the impacts of storing less water in Lake Okeechobee in the dry season?

Not having enough water to release to the lower half of Florida.

7. Sod farms have expanded to over 100,000 acres in our watershed and the demand for sod continues to grow. Sod farms are one of the largest single-point sources of nutrient runoff in our watershed. While individual lawns do not contribute significant amounts of nutrient pollution, the demand for green lawns creates the need for the huge sod farms.

A: What can be done to reduce the demand for sod in Florida

Loosen regulations that push for green lawns instead of natural Florida landscaping

B: Will you support strengthening the Florida Friendly Landscaping" legislation to protect homeowners from HOA and city lawsuits?

Yes

8: Do you support more funding for enforcement against polluters?

Yes

9: Do you support state funding to help counties with "septic to sewer" projects?

Yes

10: Do you support state funding to improve city and county sewage treatment plants that flood easily and release raw sewage into our waterways?

Yes

11 56 percent of Florida's rivers, lakes, streams, and estuaries are rated as "Impaired" by the EPA. What do you propose should be done to improve our waterways?

The first thing we need is more monitoring stations so that we can better track the individual sources for the different bodies of waters. Once we establish what is causing an issue in a specific body of water we can better work to reduce the nutrients in it.

12: Many septic systems in Florida were installed when standards allowed for less efficiency and closer to the water table. Would you support an incentive plan to get homeowners to reduce old septic systems with newer, high efficiency septic systems?

Yes

13: Why hasn't Florida done more in the past to address agricultural runoff and faulty septic systems?

Some of it has to do with the influence that the agriculture lobby has with state legislators and governorship. Some of it has to do with balancing the costs of compliance with the amount of strain it will put on business and people.

14: The change to commercial farming in the 1950s and the switch to mined phosphorus has been the largest contributor to agriculture runoff increases worldwide. Do you think that putting the flow of the Kissimmee River back to the original flow will make a significant difference now that Florida has over 20 million residents, Disney World, and Significant commercial farming?

I think it will help with the cleanup of the runoff quite a bit.

15: The Chesapeake Bay States have worked with the federal government to develop a blueprint for clean water in local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay. And it is working. Hard working farmers, business, and individuals are working together to make our rivers and streams safer, improve habitat, protect human health, and strengthen local economics. Do you support Florida Attorney General Bondi's lawsuit to prevent state/federal cooperation from being applied to Florida?

I do

16: Saying "naturally occurring" when talking about red tide or blue/green toxic algae makes it sound like the nutrient/fertilizer runoff has nothing to do with it. Would it not be the same as saying the mosquitoes are "naturally occurring" so we don't need to reduce the areas on our property where water can collect and help them breed more? Do you believe that excessive nutrient runoff feeds the red tide and blue/green algae and makes the blooms larger and stay longer?

I do because it does.

17: Phosphorus is a national security issue since 80 percent of the phosphorus reserves are in China, Morocco, and the Middle East and only 2 percent of the world's reserves are in the United States. What should be done to reduce the waste of 80 percent of the phosphorus that is applied to crops but is not used by them and end up in our watershed?

Switching to injection application of nutrients rather than ground cover application

18: In what year do you think the improvements to the Herbert Hoover Dike and the additional reservoirs/stormwater treatment areas will be able to significantly reduce the amount of nutrient rich, algae feeding water being sent to the east and west coast?

2025

19: If Hurricane Florence had hit 500 miles south at Palm Beach would the Herbert Hoover Dike have failed?

Quite possibly.

20: Toxic algae and red tide blooms have been around for years. The increase in size and the length of the time the blooms are staying have been connected to increased nutrients from runoff for years. Algae blooms are a worldwide problem and have been researched for years with the connection to runoff of nutrients proven. Many areas worldwide and within the U.S. have proven that there are cost effective ways to reduce nutrient runoff resulting in smaller blooms with shorter duration. Do you think the Florida Legislature has been doing enough to prevent runoff of nutrients from Agriculture and Human waste?

I do not

Alanis Elizabeth Garcia, Candidate for State Representative, Democrat, District 77,

Editor's note: Cape Coral resident Jim Roach challenged candidates to office to answer a series of questions concerning their positions on water quality issues. Candidates have been offered the opportunity to email their response to vharring@breezenewspapers.com. (Please list "water quality response" in the subject line.) We will publish all responses received online, noting the names of providers in our weekend print edition. The link to Mr. Roach's question list is www.cape-coral-daily-breeze.com/page/content.detail/id/668349/Challenge-to-the-candidates--State-your-position-on-water-quality-issues.html?nav=5008 )

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