Florida farmers identify water quality concerns, plan to avoid another crisis

From the fish to your fridge, the state of our water may affect the people who grow the food you eat.

The push is on to get to the bottom of water quality concerns to avoid the terrible consequences of last year’s crisis.

“It was identified that every aspect of the state has an issue with water quality,” said Mary Hartney, president of the Florida Fertilizer and Agrichemical Association. “So urban, agricultural, stormwater, wastewater and if we all concentrate our efforts, we’re going to solve this problem.”

Those same problems also impact the people who put food on our table.

“We also need to be able to grow things productively and responsibly,” Hartney said.

Tom Frick, from the Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection, joined a talk in Fort Myers Wednesday. One key concern he addressed was restoration.

“Second day in office, Gov. DeSantis said we need to take care of these blue-green algal blooms that are happening down here in South Florida,” Frick said. “He charged the department with updating those restoration plans for Lake Okeechobee, Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie.”

Those plans include cutting down pollutants entering the water, along with monitoring water quality more often and making rules for the use of biosolids, otherwise known as sludge, which can be used in addition to fertilizer on crops.

“What that means to you all is the impact will be,” Frick said. “There will be less bio-solids that will be allowed to be applied on some properties.”

As growers look at impacts, a new generation has too.

“Obviously conserving our resources and making sure future generations really have enough water and a good quality of water,” said Chris Schuchmann of Tiger Creek Nursery, “to benefit from and continue our agricultural system.”

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
Writer:Michael Mora
Do you see a typo or an error? Let us know.