| Water Bills Address Pollution and Fines|
|Strengthening Florida’s water policy by updating and tightening regulations will reduce water pollution while benefiting water quality and quantity.|
SB 712 by Senator Mayfield (R-Vero) and HB 1343 by Representative Payne (R-Palatka) take the first big step in that direction. Through updating and upgrading Florida’s water regulatory framework and by addressing every major source of pollution (septic tanks, wastewater, stormwater, agriculture, and biosolids), these bills provide steady, incremental improvements. However, one issue that remains is the appointment process for the Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection. The revised Senate version of the bill makes no changes to the current appointment process.
At the time of writing this article, SB 712 was placed on third reading and the engrossed text was filed. HB 1343 is placed on second reading and is on special order calendar for Friday.
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. SB 1450 and HB 1091, filed by Senator Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota) and Representative Randy Fine (R-Palm Bay), respectively, require changes to both the amount and the duration of penalties for violating the State’s environmental laws. HB 1091 is in messages to be sent to the Senate while its senate companion is on special order calendar for Friday.