2020 Voter Guide Ranking

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Toby Overdorf

Florida House District 83 - REP

2020 Clean Water Questionnaire Responses

To read each question, answer and candidate comments click below.

  • Question 1 : Yes
    1) The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is revising the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM). The purpose is to reevaluate and define operations for the entire Lake Okeechobee system, not just the Lake. Do you agree LOSOM should be rewritten to incorporate human health, ecology and the environment as an operational priority with existing operational priorities of flood control, navigation, water supply, and enhancement of fish, wildlife and recreation?
    Candidate Comment:

    Yes I agree, and LOSOM should be written to incorporate what storage and flow capacity is available north, south, east, and west of the lake. Unfortunately, LOSOM is currently a managing microcosm in a macrocosm of a system. As such it needs to be re-written to include geographic dispersion, ecology and the environment, human health, as well as the current demands such as flood control, irrigation, and water supply. .

  • Question 2 : Yes
    2) State legislation, FDEP data and the Blue-Green Algae Taskforce all report agriculture as the dominant source of phosphorus and nitrogen within most impaired watersheds of Florida. Do you agree industries and property owners should be held to clearly enforceable pollution standards and penalties; including mandatory adoption and verification of best management practices, and to implement inspection programs targeting septic, agriculture and industrial wastewater?
    Candidate Comment:

    My bill, HB 1363, contained many of the provisions requested in this program. In order to achieve enforcement, we need to understand the sources on a PER basin basis. This is the reason that TMDL's have not been successful in BMAPs thus far, we have to know what is going IN to the system in order to understand how to enforce it. Based on land mass, it is certainly possible that agriculture is a contributing factor. My bill had a mandatory enrollment for ag properties as well as mandatory inspections and reporting. This bill, based on the findings of the Blue Green Algae task Force, was filed with the full support of agriculture entities, included coordination and work with the Everglades Trust and Everglades Foundation, and coordinated with FDEP, DACS, and other NGOs. Without cooperation and input from ALL sides (agriculture, business, environmental restoration, regulation, political) the process will not be successful. I will continue to commit to pull all sides together as part of future legislative proposals.

  • Question 3 : Yes
    3) Water is Florida’s greatest natural resource and we should not let it go to waste. Geological water storage methods like Aquifer Storage & Recovery (ASR) and Deep Injection Wells (DIW) are risky in Florida’s fragile and porous bedrock. Independent experts, including the National Academy of Sciences, have called for increasing above ground water storage. Will you prioritize projects for Everglades restoration with above ground storage, filtration marshes and sending water south through the Everglades and down to Florida Bay, the headwaters of the Florida Keys, as nature intended?
    Candidate Comment:

    I have been working on Everglades restoration projects since 1993 when I started my Master of Sciences work on the Kissimmee River restoration. Since then I have worked with multiple agencies, willing landowners, and more to bring about wetland restoration and the ability to flow additional water to the south, all the while finding opportunities to store water within "natural" impoundments, filtration marshes and/or above ground storage areas. I have long sought to utilize these areas as natural cleansing and groundwater re-charge areas and they remain my priority avenue for water storage. I will continue to advocate for projects such as Groveland (Evans) sending local runoff to the St. Johns River, Caulkins Water Farm that cleans C-44 water prior to discharge, and the pending El Maximo project at the north end of the Kissimmee River that will store and treat water from Orlando prior to discharge into the Kissimmee Basin. These are just a sampling of the projects I will continue to advocate for if I am elected again. The restoration of flow to the south and the balance of Florida's residential, agricultural, and industrial needs are truly a delicate balance. Throw in the tribal rights, public water supply, irrigation, endangered species, state and federal budgetary demands, property rights, and the federal laws regarding phosphorous ppb discharge to Everglades National Park and you truly have a complicated system. There is no silver bullet for this system, but there is long term perseverance, negotiation, and restoration. We are now seeing the fruits of that labor with the establishment of the EAA reservoir, the removal of the "old" Tamiami Trail, the raising of the "new" Tamiami and Alligator alley (removing the plug), the EAA Phosphorous reduction program, the establishment of the Blue Green Algae Task Force, the legislature committing over 1.2 billion to restoration in my first two years in office, and the Federal commitment of funding to Everglades restoration. I will continue to advocate for solutions that recognize there is a balance but not a mutual exclusion of the economy and the environment.

  • Question 4 : Yes
    4) The Florida sugar industry steered over $60 million - not including dark money - to candidates in state and local elections between 1994 and 2016, according to the Miami Herald, which reported “on issue after issue, regulators, legislators, and governors have erred on the side of softening the impact of adverse rules and regulations on cane growers...” which increased pollution, shifted cleanup costs to taxpayers, and influenced Lake Okeechobee water management, for the benefit of private irrigation and flood control, to the detriment of the Everglades, Florida Bay and coastal estuaries and communities. Do you agree that your campaign will be sugar-free, accepting no contributions from any source with ties to the sugarcane industry?
    Candidate Comment:

    Please note that I have many friends, business associates and colleagues throughout the state. These are farmers, ranchers, growers, engineers, CPA's, restaurateurs, business people, educators, researchers, activists, fellow legislators, non-profits and more. It should be recognized that they likely all have "ties to the sugarcane industry" so the premise of your question can cause me to answer it dishonestly without explanation. It should also be recognized the thousands upon thousands of tons of food supplied to foodbanks, shelters, and the general public by industries associated with sugarcane and sugarcane growing. I have and will continue to work with growers in order to provide this needed food and am extremely grateful these companies are willing to participate. I recognize the stance your organization has taken in regards to campaign funding.

  • Question 5 : Yes
    5) The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has identified two strategies for improving water quality: Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs) and the Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) of excess pollutants and nutrients. The state has failed to sufficiently fund testing, standardization, staffing and consequential goals, resulting in negligible progress on water quality. Do you agree with the need to fully fund BMAP and TMDL monitoring and enforcement, establish unified standards and to pursue reporting accountability?
    Candidate Comment:

    The two items need to work together. The BMAPS are ultimately dependent on the TMDLs in order to be successful. After taking recommendations from the Blue Green Algae Task force, we authored HB 1363, Basin Management Action Plans. This comprehensive legislation provided additional management strategies for BMAPs, required certain plans to include specified elements; provides requirements for DEP, DACS, DOH, UF/IFAS, local governments, water management districts, & owners of agricultural operations; required specified data collection & research; established nutrient reduction cost-share programs within DEP, and required DEP & DACS to include specified information in annual progress reports for BMAPs including specified reporting requirements. While only portions of the bill were passed, we will again, after working with various groups, file this legislation again.