Even during a possible government shutdown, Congressman Byron Donalds wants the federal government to continue monitoring waterways for harmful algal blooms.
That’s the first bill Donalds has introduced during his tenure as the representative for Florida’s 19th congressional district.
“Our bill dealing with harmful algae blooms is very simple and straightforward,” Donalds said. “We want to make sure that even in the event of a government shutdown, that the monitoring still continues.”
Donalds introduced the bill on Wednesday. Donalds said monitoring the water is an all hands-on deck situation, which is why he thinks the federal government should continue to monitor it in addition to the Calusa Waterkeeper, Captains for Clean Water and others.
Harmful algal blooms struck Southwest Florida in 2018.
For Joanne Kreise, it’s hard to forget.
“It was several inches thick when my husband tried to cut it apart. It was almost like Styrofoam,” Kreise said. “It was so dense.”
Kreise said she wants more to be done.
“It smelled like something dying and there were a lot of flies,” Kreise said. “You couldn’t go outside, you couldn’t go out my back door.”
Kreise said her stepdaughter became sick and had to go on antibiotics to deal with the blooms.
She said monitoring is good, but the bill doesn’t force local, state or federal governments to do anything if there are concerning levels of blue-green algae in the water.
“Why can’t it be all in one,” she said. “Why do we have to have step one, step two? I don’t understand.”
Donalds said it’s one of the things that has to be done.
“It is not everything,” Donalds said.
Peter Karas also lives on the water in St. James City. He calls the bill a step in the right direction.
“You have to know what you’re reacting to,” Karas said. “Good science will tell us that.”