Comparative Analysis of Public Policies to Address Harmful Algal Blooms
Authors: Christopher Cuevas, David Kaplan
Faculty Mentor: David Kaplan
College: Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering
Harmful algal blooms (HABs) found in both fresh- and saltwater ecosystems throughout the United States pose unique challenges for environmental policy and water resource management. Excess anthropogenic phosphorus and nitrogen flows from agriculture and septic systems are responsible for the modern proliferation of HABs in all 50 states, with substantial ecological and environmental consequences. Florida, a state with 18.5% water area, over 8000 miles of coastline, and a population growth rate exceeding 250,000 people per year, is particularly vulnerable to HABs. The state’s nature-based tourism economy is contrasted against other major economic sectors that have substantial negative environmental impacts, including phosphate mining and agriculture. Despite substantial negative economic impact and media attention from recent HAB events, Florida’s state government has only recently begun to make HAB mitigation a major policy priority. By analyzing a series of cases of other regions facing HABs, including the Chesapeake Bay, Lake Erie, Lake Champlain, and the Gulf of Maine, this study seeks to highlight the effectiveness of state and regional environmental policy efforts to mitigate HABs. This analysis can be used to suggest potential policy options for addressing HAB mitigation in Florida.
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