Asked about the accusations levied at the DEP, spokesman Patrick Gillespie said in a statement: "Florida has the most comprehensive water quality standards in the nation, and the Department continues to prioritize getting the water right, in terms of water quality and quantity... Reaching an agreement on Florida's numeric nutrient criteria with the U.S. EPA this year, coupled with new state rules and legislation passed by the Florida Legislature, will result in cleaner, safer water for all Floridians."

Rose of the Save the Manatee Club, however, isn't convinced. The aquatic biologist has worked with manatees for 40 years. In 1981, Gov. Bob Graham tapped him to serve as an original committee member and scientific adviser for the Save the Manatee Club. In the 1990s, he acted as the U.S.'s first federal manatee coordinator. He spent 18 years in Tallahassee strengthening water laws and manatee habitats.

He's learned that protecting manatees has far-reaching effects beyond the creature itself. Even if people know nothing about aquifers, algal blooms, or the environment, they love the manatee. These dopey-looking mammals become rallying cries.

So, Rose asks, how do you save the manatees? Simple. Make stricter water laws.

In the past month, Scott's administration has shown a slight shift. In the 2013-14 budget, set in May, Scott boosted the DEP's budget by $271 million to $1.2 billion. Later that month, the DEP discovered $10 million to put toward spring restoration. The state also has begun providing extra funding to the Everglades, river cleanup, and the land-conservation program Florida Forever. They are incremental changes, environment advocates say, adding that Scott has done little to regulate the industries generating the pollution.

In any case, it will take years for seagrass to return to places where it vanished from the lagoon.

The mysterious manatee deaths slowed in May, but a toxic brown algal bloom reappeared soon thereafter in the northern part of the lagoon. Brown tide, never reported in Florida until last year, might become a permanent fixture of the lagoon. "You put these systems past the tipping point, and it doesn't just go slow," Rose says. "It goes very rapidly."

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7 comments
dan1051
dan1051

Good for Scott...I see he cut $1.5 Bil a year in relative WASTE spending.  

anetlong
anetlong

Whatever is causing the death of sea mammals and creatures is almost surely coming from the land.  If it's coming from the land, its just a matter of time before people start getting sick from the same poison that is killing our wildlife.  Excellent story. 

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

yeah why should we care about the environment - MANATEEs don't VOTE

Sam Smith
Sam Smith

Rick Scott has got to go!! Doesn't he understand that one of our biggest businesses is tourism, we have to care for our earth, our resources, our waterways, our animals and sea life if people are going to come visit.

smdrpepper
smdrpepper topcommenter

@dan1051 Only a tea bagger would think that cutting clean water is a good thing.

dan1051
dan1051

@Sam Smith Send the organizations that YOU support, YOUR money!    They are fools and use their positions to benefit themselves and their friends....300 people from the South Fla Water Management alone.... WOW, THAT IS A WASTE!

 
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