| Resiliency and Water Bills Move Forward
|Audubon is tracking SB 1557, filed by Rep. Chaney (R-St. Petersburg), that includes provisions that will impact consumptive use permitting, reclaimed water use, and resilience planning. The bill was passed favorably by the House Water Quality, Supply and Treatment Subcommittee (Chair, Rep. Stevenson (R-St. Johns)).
Several helpful updates were made to the resiliency grant program, expanding the scope of eligible entities and types of projects. Additionally, a requirement for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to report annually on the water quality improvement grant program was also added to the bill. Lastly, the requirement for wastewater treatment facilities to treat to advanced standards was narrowed to only include those within DEP’s restoration plans.
We reported on the Senate companion last week, SB 1386. Read more about it here.
Legal Fees Provision Removed – Good News
A piece of good news to report, the committee substitute (CS) for HB 789 by Rep. Overdorf passed favorably at its first committee stop, the House Water Quality, Supply and Treatment Subcommittee. It removed a section from the original bill that would have entitled the prevailing parties to have their legal fees paid for by losing party in challenges to permits issued by DEP and the water management districts. The section that required a very expansive review of all coastal environmental permitting was also removed from the CS. We are hoping for a similar change in the Senate companion, SB 738, by Sen. Burgess (R-Zephyrhills).
Critical Stormwater Bill Moves Forward
Another positive update to share: SB 7040, Ratification of the Department of Environmental Protection’s Rules Relating to Stormwater – 2024, passed with unanimous support through the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee (Chair, Sen. Rodriguez (R- Doral)). It is important to note that while the stormwater rule update that is ready for ratification requires a higher level of treatment and removal through each approved permit, the new stormwater rule actually provides more routes to compliance by allowing for innovative approaches to meet the design criteria, including green infrastructure and low impact development.
The House companion was filed this week, WST1 - Stormwater Rules – 2024, by the Water Quality, Supply and Treatment Subcommittee.