Florida Chamber-Backed Water Bill Passes Senate Environmental Preservation Committee

The Florida Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee today unanimously passed a Florida Chamber-backed water bill that will help secure Florida’s water future.

The bill, SB 0552 by Senator Charles Dean (R-Inverness), will:

  • Help ensure clean and abundant water,
  • Reduce the prospect of “water wars” among users in resource-limited areas, and
  • Promote strategic partnerships between the public and private sector in achieving water resource development goals.

In testimony before the committee, Florida Chamber lobbyists David Childs of Hopping Green & Sams, P.A. explained that this bill will go a long way to ensure we have the water quality decision being made to ensure that, Florida isn’t decades from now, kicking itself and wishing that it would have done something.

“We’re on the home stretch of a very long journey,” Childs said. “This is not a victory lap, but a lot of hard work to ensure that in 20 years and 30 years from now, we look like Florida and not California who is dealing with water shortages.”

The House companion bill, HB 7005 sponsored by Representative Matt Caldwell (R-Lehigh Acres) passed its first committee stop two weeks ago.

With six million more residents expected to call Florida home by 2030, the Florida Chamber of Commerce believes that securing Florida’s water future is essential in preparing Florida’s infrastructure for smart growth and development.

The Florida Chamber thanks Senator Dean and Representative Caldwell for sponsoring this legislation, and we will continue to monitor its progress in the coming weeks.

 

Septic Tank Pollution Threatening Indian River Lagoon

It’s not the most pleasant subject, but human waste from inappropriately located septic tanks is being blamed for polluting many of Florida’s waterways, including the Indian River Lagoon – the most biologically diverse lagoon ecosystem in the Northern Hemisphere.

Scientists at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute have found that nitrogen-laden sewage from septic tanks draining into the lagoon is responsible for algae blooms that kill seagrass and marine life.

Recent news stories in Florida Today and the TC Palm’s Treasure Coast Progress & Innovation magazine have raised the issue of problems caused by the estimated 300,000 septic tanks along the lagoon.

Here Are Some of the Key Takeaways:

  • An analysis by Florida Today found septic tanks contribute an estimated 2 million pounds of nitrogen in the lagoon per year.
  • Nitrogen promotes the growth of algae, which suffocates seagrass needed to sustain lagoon life.
    Thousands of the septic tanks near the lagoon are located at homes built before 1983, the cutoff when state law increased septic tank setbacks from the water and the distance between drain fields and the water table.
  • Many of the septic tanks are old and malfunctioning. State health officials estimate up to 10 percent of Florida’s 2.6 million septic tanks are failing.
  • Harbor Branch marine biologist Dr. Brian Lapointe describes sewage nitrogen as “the smoking gun’’ threatening the lagoon.

Risks from septic tanks aren’t unique to the Indian River Lagoon.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce supports a Proposed Committee Bill by the House State Affairs Committee, as well as SB 552 by Senator Charles Dean (R-Inverness), which require water quality restoration programs to address septic tanks contributing to springs pollution and will benefit all state water ways by focusing resources on cost-effective water quality improvement projects.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Northwest Florida Water Management District recently set aside $11.6 million in state money to fund several projects to remove septic tanks from waterways in the Panhandle.

North of Orlando, the DEP has launched a study of about the impact of septic tanks on the Wekiva River. The state has declared the river and nearby springs polluted with nitrogen and phosphorous.

ICYMI: Below are links to recent articles highlighting septic tank pollution.