The budget passed by the Florida Legislature fell short on advancing key environmental programs that are already underfunded. This will specifically impact the South Florida Water Management District, the state agency responsible for Everglades restoration, flood control and protecting the drinking water supply for 8.1 million residents.
The only opportunity to close the gap in funding will come July 16, when members of the District’s Governing Board will set the millage rates for next year. Before you jump out of your chair, please note that raising the millage rate by around 25 percent would only cost a homeowner of a $250,000 home about $20 for the year, and would provide the much needed additional revenue needed to make up for this funding gap.
The services and benefits provided by the SFWMD are essential to safeguard our survival and quality of life. That’s why I’m willing to pay a little more to help ensure that the water resources of South Florida are protected, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
That the District is in this position is troubling. Florida’s elected leaders have managed to allocate even less money to the environment, even after the passage of Amendment 1 last November, which created an additional source of dedicated revenues for the environment. In short, they have abandoned their mandate and are ignoring the will of the voters.
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If the Legislature will not take it upon themselves to adequately fund the agency whose mission is to “manage and protect the water resources of the region by balancing and improving water quality, flood control, natural systems and water supply” for 16 counties, then the agency must find other solutions.
Humans can survive about a month without food, but only five to seven days without water. That means no bathing, no flushing, no cooking, no washing. Nothing. Will you then be thankful for having saved $20 instead of having used them to ensure you and your family had access to drinking water?
Therefore, in the face of the Legislature’s complete abdication of its duties, we need to give the agency in charge of our water supply all the necessary tools and resources to safeguard our most precious resource.
I’m ready to invest in restoring the very ecosystems that recharge our aquifers and drive our economy. Let’s not risk coming close to running dry.
Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, Miami