|A committee substitute to SB 1450 by Senator Gruters (R-Sarasota) passed the Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice on Tuesday and is headed to Senate appropriations, its last committee of reference.|
This bill increases civil penalties for violations of environmental laws and requires changes to both the amount and the duration of penalties for violating the State’s environmental laws. Senator Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) successfully filed an amendment to the bill that encourages municipalities to develop an inspection program for sewer laterals for residential and commercial properties within their jurisdiction. It also requires a seller to disclose any known defects in the property’s sanitary sewer lateral when a home is being sold.
Senator Mayfield’s (R-Vero) water bill SB 712, Water Quality Improvements, passed the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday. SB 712 is a comprehensive water bill that addresses all of the major sources of pollution, including septic systems, wastewater, stormwater, agriculture, and biosolids, while adding new requirements for BMAPs, the state’s water quality restoration plan. The bill directs the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to develop rules relating to most of these topics.
An amendment filed on Wednesday evening made some controversial additions to the bill. One provision removes the requirement that the Cabinet vote unanimously to approve the appointment of the Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection; instead, only one of three Cabinet members would have to join the governor in voting to approve.
The other addition to the amendment is a preemption of local governments preventing them from granting legal rights to the natural environment. There are already citizen initiatives in several counties with this process in the works.
Other provisions in the amendment include prioritization of four watersheds (Lake Okeechobee, Indian River Lagoon, Caloosahatchee Estuary, and Silver Springs) for initial data collection and verification of agricultural best management practices. Importantly, for the first time ever, data collected will be shared with DEP and the Blue-Green Algae Task Force to evaluate the BMP program and to develop a more robust program going forward.
The new amendment requires DEP to deliver a study on the bottled water industry and its effect on springs by June 30, 2021. Additionally, until June 30, 2022, any consumptive use permits for water derived from a spring for bottling purposes must be approved by unanimous vote by the governing board of a water management district. The amendment requires a variety of other reports to be developed, including an analysis of water quality monitoring plans for BMAPs identifying deficiencies and ways in which to resolve those deficiencies.