| In September 2019, as part of his bold agenda, Governor DeSantis announced his intention to raise the state's $10,000 fine for spilling raw sewage into waterways by 50 percent to hold local governments and utilities accountable for their actions. In addition, each day that the spill continued would be considered a separate offense.|
The Governor is about to meet part of that goal. SB 1450 and HB 1091, filed this week by State Senator Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota) and Representative Randy Fine (R-Palm Bay), respectively, will increase fines on local governments for sewage spills and other pollution discharges into Florida waterways.
Additionally, SB 1878, filed by Senator Bradley (R-Flemming), sets aside $625 million each year to protect the Everglades, improve water quality, and prevent toxic algae blooms. The bill includes $300 million for the Everglades, $50 million for springs, and $100 million for Florida Forever, with the remaining allocations mostly consistent with the Governor’s current budget request.
These bills complement SB 712 that unanimously passed the Community Affairs Committee on December 9, 2019. Senator Debbie Mayfield’s (R-Vero Beach) Water Quality Improvements bill houses the most comprehensive water legislation Florida has seen in years and addresses the Governor’s recommendations for clean water. It includes recommendations for septic tanks, wastewater facilities, stormwater management, a maintenance and inspection program for utilities, as well as an inspection and reporting program for agriculture. HB1343, Water Quality Improvements was filed by Representative Payne (R-Palatka) as a companion to SB 712. The bills, while similar, are not identical. HB 1343 requires legislative ratification of any biosolids management rules that are adopted by the Department of Environmental Protection.
With these bills moving through the legislature, there is hope for Florida’s water.