SB 948 Grimsley

This is an urgent alert on a bill which, if passed in its current form, places major agriculture corporations in a privileged position to the detriment of wise and fair water planning in our state.  Senate Bill 948, proposed by Senator Grimsley, was drafted, and is being strongly pushed, by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS). The Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee will consider the bill this Thursday, March 7th. It is of great importance to our state’s environment and economy that SB 948 is set aside until amended to address the serious concerns detailed below.

Take Action

We ask that you contact Commissioner Putnam, Senator Grimsley and the other members of the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee with a message in your own words, or you may use this prepared and addressed email* (just make sure you add your name at the bottom). The time to stand up for our water resources is now – ACT TODAY!

Bill Description

The bill, as written, would effectively set the stage for granting new water rights to agricultural users during periods of drought and promote irrigation over other uses during water shortages. 

It increases the likelihood that water flowing to springs and pooling in lakes and wetlands will be used for industrial level irrigation, and increases power of other self-supplier industrial users in the planning process.

It does nothing to advance the cause of conservation and efficient water use or help our springs. 

Bill Specifics

1. The bill empowers DACS to set agricultural water supply need estimates which would become the presumptive standard for water management district planning. Water Supply plans are intended to serve the interests of all of the citizens of Florida. Until now no government agency has seen its role as advocating on behalf of the private sector in this process. Placing a private interest in a position of privilege to determine water supply planning is without precedent and against the best interest of all Floridians and our environment. Agricultural self-suppliers of water would be greatly benefited resulting in a loss to the rest of Florida’s water users.  

2.  Any other entities with this advocacy privilege are agencies of local elected officials.  This is a deliberate decision by the legislature who recognized, in the statute, that planning for public water supply is essential.

3.  DACS, in preparing water supply need estimates, is not required to consider water conservation measures, the only sustainable way of assuring low cost, clean, water to the citizens and businesses of our state.  

4.  In developing these estimates, DACS is not required to be consistent with local government comprehensive plans; effectively stripping power away from local governments and locally elected officials and the Governor and Cabinet’s oversight of planning for important state resources.

5.  The planning period which DACS would use is not consistent with current adopted plans to manage Lake Okeechobee for environmental restoration and does nothing to ensure that in periods of drought water shortages would be shared equally among consumptive uses, potentially jeopardizing the health and recovery of America’s Everglades.    

6.  It sets up a new water planning group within DACS that infringes on the duty of Florida’s five water management districts to manage our state’s water resources.

In Summary

It is reasonable that DACS assist the districts with their knowledge about agriculture.  It is not reasonable to assume that their estimates should have a special place in state water planning to protect agriculture above other interests. DACS officials have indicated a willingness to improve this bill, and Senator Grimsley has suggested a meeting on Monday, March  11. 

We trust that Commissioner Putnam, Senator Grimsley, and Members of the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee have no desire to be responsible for further damage to our waters, economy, and the Everglades. However, this bill is moving ahead quickly and will be considered by the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee this Thursday. It is up to you to let them know that the people of Florida are watching and refuse to accept the takeover of water supply planning by agricultural mega-corporations.

(note:There are no specific House Companions, but portions are contained in HB 1063 Hutson and HB 999 Patronis)

Take Action

We ask that you contact Commissioner Putnam, Senator Grimsley and the other members of the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee with a message in your own words, or you may use this prepared and addressed email* (just make sure you add your name at the bottom). The time to stand up for our water resources is now – ACT TODAY!
 

It’s your voice that counts.

Thank you.
Florida Conservation Coalition