Former DEP chief talks about climate change, aging infrastructure


Water is one of Florida’s most abundant natural resources. This is one of the important impacts on the environment and other important industries in our economy, but it is also being depleted and polluted.

People flock to Southwest Florida for boating, beaches, swimming, fishing, and food.

Tourism is top of the line in the region and helps promote fun, which is your waterway. But take away and what’s left?

Noah Valensteinis a colleague of the president and instructor at FGCU’s The Water school. “We love having vibrant, thriving communities and economies alongside great natural resources, and it’s a great part of Florida,” he explains. However, it is really difficult to coexist and keep our environment protected. It will never be like 100 years ago, we have to create our new perfection, right? ”

Valenstein served under two governors and is a former Director of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Noah Valenstein

We asked him about the biggest issues facing southwest Florida and where we’re going from here. “I think it changes every day,” he replied. “Florida struggles with aging infrastructure. I mean, we have sewer lines and broken lines. “

A recent version is in Charlotte County on February 23where 100,000 gallons of sewage overflowed a neighborhood, along with 20,000 gallons into a nearby sewer.

“When the groundwater level changes, then you’ll have more flow and seep into those pipes, the system won’t work as well, you’ll have more breaks like the one you’ve covered.”

And then there’s climate change.

Valenstein added, “You have business communities, you have parents, you have other people, all of whom are seeing changes in weather patterns, realizing that sea level rise is real and when you live by the coast, that’s something we need to pay attention to and plan for, isn’t it? … We all realized, this is a conversation we must have. And I think that change is like what you’ve seen in water quality where people realize that this is important. ”

He feels that students right now will spur the conversation to protect our future. “Fifty years ago, you probably wouldn’t have had a class to think about creative solutions in terms of green, gray infrastructure where you intentionally planted mangroves. New reefs build with those mangroves, new ways to protect our shores. ”

In addition to teaching courses, Valenstein’s also supports the university with water policy and how it works with other schools in the state.

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