DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Volusia County Council Chair Jeff Brower on Tuesday laid out his priorities in the 2023 State of the County address, with water quality ranking as his number one issue. Brower spoke to less than ideal water quality readings in key natural bodies in Volusia County as reason for alarm, and for action.
He first outlined the problem by citing four rivers that run through Volusia being designated by the Environmental Protection Administration as 'impaired': the Halifax, Indian, St. Johns, and Tomoka. He also cited similarly bleak bacteria counts in local springs.
The call to alarm was followed by a call to action - Brower announced his opposition to a bill making its way through the state legislature which would strip county governments of their authority to regulate water quality. Known as the Land and Water Management bill (SB 1240), the act would withhold all state funds from counties which regulate their water quality or pollution. It was filed by State Senator Danny Burgess (R-Zephyrhills), with an identical version introduced in the State House by Randy Maggard (R-Dade City).
Issues of water quality have taken the state by storm, especially as Florida's iconic West Indian manatee population has died off unsustainably, attributed in large part to degrading estuarine habitats. Hand-feeding manatees has tipped the needle, but hasn't addressed the core issue causing their demise.