MELBOURNE, Fla. - On the campaign trail with his wife, Congressman Ron DeSantis heard more about pollution of the Indian River Lagoon Thursday during a meeting with leaders and scientists at the Eastern Florida State College campus on Wickham Road.
State Sen. Debbie Mayfield, R-Melbourne, reiterated what a county government representative said, "Not one thing is going to fix it."
Brevard County Commissioner John Tobia and state Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, both said lagoon health is a multi-billion dollar problem.
The American Society of Civil Engineers said Brevard County needs $3 billion in infrastructure improvements.
DeSantis is running for the Republican nomination for governor against Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam.
The primary election is Aug. 28.
"The voters of this county voted to increase their own taxes in order to fund the lagoon," Fine said. "The problem is, it's not enough money."
Fine believes the lagoon is the No. 1 issue to Brevard voters.
He addressed DeSantis calling for greater penalties to deter sewage spills.
"We all agree that sewage in the water is not helping things," Fine said.
Scientists said sewage and septic tanks are hurting the water the most. Those in real estate said pollution is lowering home values.
Part of the lagoon is in the congressman's district.
"It affects our quality of life, so it's something that we need to tend to," DeSantis said.
The congressman said he learned more what it may take to restore one of the world's most biodiverse ecosystems.
"If you're doing this right and you're solving the problem, the community stands to reap benefits far in excess of that because you're talking about the fishing industry, you're talking about tourism, you're talking about property values," DeSantis said.
The gubernatorial candidate said he's working in Washington to put more federal money toward all of Florida's water problems.
DeSantis said he's telling his top endorser, President Donald Trump, that help needs to get here fast.
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