Congressman Vern Buchanan spoke with Suncoast scientists and commissioners Friday about how to combat red tide.

“My goal is for us to have a shared vision and a shared plan and go get it done,” said Rep. Buchanan. 

Local leaders gathered on Bradenton Beach in a round table to try and find solutions.

“It’s not just about the beaches and tourism but it’s about real estate it’s about jobs. It impacts who we are, especially when you look at most of the population are on our coast, it’s a big deal,” said Rep. Buchanan. 

“We embarked on a 5 year CIP plan that’s going to be 1.3 billion dollars in our utilities department and that’s focused replacing old sewer lines. It's also focused on completely rehabbing two of our three waste water filtration systems,” said Kevin Van Ostenbridge, Chairman of Manatee County Board of County Commissioners.

As one of his top ten priorities this Congress, Congressman Vern Buchanan introduced the Protecting Local Communities from Harmful Algal Blooms Act.

“When we have all the dead fish and clean up is that we have the resources technically and financially to help our communities in this area to take care of the financial aspect of it,” said Rep. Buchanan. 

This change would require FEMA to provide both technical and financial assistance to states suffering from outbreaks of Harmful Algal Blooms like red tide.

“Were the only place in the country with three natural estuaries on our border and by that fact alone we have a responsibility to be the stewards of those estuaries,” said Ed Chiles, Founder of Chiles Hospitality.

Ron Huibers, Chair of the Holmes Beach Clean Water Committee hopes these outbreaks will push people to focus on their own backyards too.

“I’ll give you an example when I did a renovation on my home I followed Florida friendly landscape. I took all my storm water and now they go underground into a French drain. Where I used to have puddles out in my front yard, they’re gone. I was also over watering and I got rid of fertilizer. These are the kind of things that every citizen on the island can do to make sure we aren’t putting nutrients in our own backyard,” said Huibers. 

The end goal – preserve and protect the coastline that we are all so lucky to call home.