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Sarasota Democrats' Water Quality Resolution 

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 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. 

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