Water quality timing is urgent

Guest Correspondence

Photo Courtesy Sarasota County Health Department

On March 15, The Argus Foundation in partnership with South County Tiger Bay will host a water quality meeting called, “Water Quality: What is Sarasota County doing about it?” As red tide has faded, and tourist season has set in, the memories of some are beginning to fade from the very prolonged red tide episode we just experienced. The Argus Foundation continues to advocate that we keep this item on the front burner though.

We congratulate the Sarasota County Commission for making water quality a priority both in their strategic planning and also in their legislative asks with the state. County administration has bought into the priority and has already generated proposals and recommendations for the commission to act on.

Short-term planning, long-term planning, and prioritization are important. As the county plans capital projects for the next five years, their stated priorities should be reflected budgetarily not just for taxpayers, but to show the legislature that they are serious. Governor Ron DeSantis, Senate President Bill Galvano, and House Speaker Jose Oliva have all committed to water quality infrastructure under their leadership. 

Timing is important because while legislative leadership spans over the next 2 years, the reality is that the 2019 legislative session will end in May and the 2020 legislative sessions will end 13 months from now. We have a little over a year before this window comes to a close.

As the distance between this last awful bout of red tide and future sessions grows, there is no guarantee that this issue will remain a priority for future leadership. So, we must carpe diem. We believe that will happen with the recent discussions by the county commission. Policy follow-through and active direction after serious discussions will be important though.

Outside of session, the good news is that water quality is not something that just got on the county’s radar. There are innovative and important county government water legacies that started decades ago that are still being carried on today in this county.

At the joint water quality meeting, Sarasota County staff will go through some of the water quality efforts and science they are using to improve our waters. This luncheon meeting will be held conveniently right off the Laurel Road interstate exit at Venetian Golf and River Club. Red tide had the most pro-longed effect in south county.

We invite you to attend and hear about the programs and science. Go to http://argusfoundation.org/events/ for more information and ways to reserve seats.

The county is moving in the right direction despite time working against them, voters should encourage the county, express gratitude, and let them know they support their efforts.

Christine Robinson is executive director for The Argus Foundation.

Photo Courtesy Sarasota County Health Department

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