Improve Water Bills: SB 552 and HB 7005

Dear FCC Members, 

We need your help! Proposed legislation regarding how Florida protects and manages its waters, Senate Bill 552 and House Bill 7005, have strong leadership support and are barreling their way through the legislature. As water is Florida’s most valuable natural resource and deserves the utmost protection, we must each act quickly to ensure that these bills do not wind up only protecting Florida’s special interests! While these bills do have some positive provisions for Florida’s water resources, their current language falls short of fulfilling the needs of Florida’s citizens and environment.

To meet new demands on our finite water resources, Florida must focus on conservation across all sectors to ensure our water resources can provide water for people, industry and agriculture without harming our already stressed environment and the ecosystems that are the basis of our quality of life and economy. To protect the quality of our waters, pollution must be effectively controlled at its source. The longer we allow pollution to enter our waterways, the more expensive and time-consuming remediation will be- if possible at all. The legislation currently being considered by the House and Senate fails to accomplish these essential goals.

Please contact Senate sponsor Charles Dean,  Senate President Andy GardinerHouse Speaker Steve Crisafulli, andyour legislators today.  Ask them to amend Senate Bill 552 and House Bill 7005, respectively, to improve protections for Florida’s waters. You can write your own letter or use our templates addressed to representatives and senators. For a detailed list of some of the amendments needed for this legislation, see below. For more information on proposed amendments click here.

-      Preserve the autonomy of Florida’s regional water management districts (Districts) by removing provisions which undercut their ability to deny Consumptive Use Permits that violate minimum flow and minimum water levels.

-      Preserve important pollution source controls such as the South Florida Water Management District’s Works of the District permitting program, which proactively requires reductions in the amount of nutrient pollution (excess nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizers, sewage and animal waste) that is allowed to be discharged into waterways. Proposed language would eliminate the Works of the District program.

-      Prevent the interbasin transfer of water by deleting language allowing Districts to unilaterally take water from one District for use in another.

-       Require projects that receive funding from public tax dollars be cost-effective and maximize water conservation.

-      Expedite the recovery of natural systems by setting ambitious deadlines for meeting Minimum Flows and Minimum Levels (MFMLs) of water in natural water bodies and meeting Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) pollution limits. The proposed legislation would delay restoration of Florida’s waters by setting completion goals more than two decades into the future.

-      Require immediate monitoring of all consumptive use permit withdrawals. In order to create meaningful water supply plans for the future, and protect our springs, rivers, lakes, wetlands, and other waters, we must know how much water we’re currently using. The proposed legislation exempts monitoring of existing consumptive use permits and contains loopholes to allow major water users to avoid monitoring in the future.

-      Protect Florida’s Outstanding Florida Springs by stopping new sources of pollution. Significant new sources of pollution, like septic tanks, industrial wastewater disposal facilities, the land application of septage waste from septic tanks and concentrated animal feeding operations must be prohibited near our springs.

-      Add mechanisms to control nitrogen pollution to The Lake Okeechobee Watershed Protection Program such as setting a Total Maximum Daily Load pollutant limit specifically for Nitrogen. Proposed language only addresses phosphorus pollution.

-    Exempt from legislative ratification rulemaking requirements for verification of best management practices and monitoring in lieu of best management practices. Our springs, lakes, rivers, wetlands, and estuaries cannot afford for enforcement of necessary steps to protect them to be delayed.

It is important to remember that this legislation started three years ago as part of a grassroots effort to protect Florida’s springs, rivers, lakes, estuaries and Everglades. Tens of thousands of you attended events across Florida, signed petitions, volunteered your time, and met with your legislators to demand the protection of our waters. Our opportunity to accomplish these goals is now! 

Contact Senate sponsor Charles Dean, Senate President Andy Gardiner, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, and your legislators today. Ask them to amend Senate Bill 552 and House Bill 7005, respectively, to improve protections for Florida’s waters. To use our template, click here to write your representatives and here to write your senators.

 

Senate sponsor Charles Dean: dean.charles.web@flsenate.gov; Capitol Phone Number: (850) 487- 5005

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli: steve.crisafulli@myfloridahouse.gov; Capitol Phone Number: (850) 717- 5051

Senate President Andy Gardiner: gardiner.andy.web@flsenate.gov ; Capitol Phone Number: (850) 487- 5013


 

Thank you for protecting Florida's waters!

Sincerely,

Nathaniel Reed

Vice Chairman of the Florida Conservation Coalition