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The following article from TC Palm describes the committee hearing of this fine bill yesterday, March 20, 2011. As written by Sen. Mayfield it was a great start to improving our useless BMAPs, but it appears AG interests got ahold of it and/or the senator, and ruined it for the springs.
Organized by Ryan Smart and the Florida Springs Council, a group supporting the original bill traveled to Tallahassee and spoke cogently and passionately for the bill and against the amendment, but to no avail. Promises came from Sen. Mayfield to fix the bill to aid the springs.
Bob Palmer Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson
The new and happy thing about SB 1758 was that agriculture was described as the major issue of BMAP failure, finally. AG is so powerful in Florida it is treated with kid gloves or often omitted as with the current topics filed by Rep. Fine (see “State lawmakers begin polluter crackdown”.)
Ryan Smart Whitey Markle
Karen Chadwick Brenda Wells
Kristin Rubin Ann Holbrook
For the record, your historian spoke to the committee yesterday of the importance of sustainable agriculture, and that we must support it and share news costs from using less water and fertilizer.
If agriculture cannot sustain itself with less fertilizer and water, then the higher costs of produce must be shared by the consumer. If agriculture fails in FL, then someday all that land will be seized by developers and FL will become one huge city. So agriculture and the citizens of Florida who want springs must work together. Agriculture will not be the same as it is today if it is to survive, but it can be sustainable and the consumer must pay his share.
Palmer, Roth and Markle await their turn
Other bills relating to water testing were heard and passed, and a Legislative Workshop was held regarding the Valdosta sewage spills.
Lots of chaff was heard from the Florida Department of Health and especially the Florida Department of Environmental Protection as to what they do for testing, and the (non-existant) baseline that is supposed to be there.
Ken Cornell, Alachua Co. Commissioner
Hugh Thomas Executive Director Suwannee River Water Management
There is no doubt that sewage is being spilled from Valdosta, but what is not explained is that peak pollution in the Suwannee has preceded flooding spills from the water plant there.
Logical conclusion is that other sources are present, which must be identified, and this has not come from Florida Dept. Health nor the FDEP. Earlier rumors suggested agriculture or horse farms upstream from Valdosta.
John Quarterman, Helen Miller, Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, Mike Roth
The end of the this story has not yet been revealed. We will await Mr. John Quarterman and perhaps Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson for the conclusion, who are doing the jobs of Florida, Georgia and Valdosta, but are not being paid.
Merrillee speaks with Sen. Montford
Although nothing was decided at this workshop, the important thing is that now, for the first time, Florida lawmakers are aware of the issue. Since it is not within our borders, federal action will likely be taken, and if Sen. Montford has his way, the action will be soon.
Preparing battle plans at lunch.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-
Florida Sen. Debbie Mayfield septic tank, wastewater bill amended
Florida Sen. Debbie Mayfield has amended her bill that would have moved state oversight of septic tanks from the Department of Health to the Department of Environmental Protection.
Now the bill, SB 1758, would require DEP and DOH to instead form a study that looks at the possibility of doing so. If passed, the departments would have to present the findings of the study to legislators before July 1, 2020.
The amended bill unanimously passed the Senate Environment and Natural Resources committee Wednesday.
Another proposed provision that would have strengthened environmental regulations in areas surrounding springs was also eliminated as part of the amended bill.
Florida springs have had increased algae, caused by pollution from agriculture, leaky septic tanks and sewage systems and fertilizer.
Several advocates for springs and rivers from North Central Florida opposed the changes to the bill, telling members of the committee about murkier waters filled with algae, and their worries that the legislature was prioritizing agricultural interests over the environment.
Mayfield, R-Melbourne, said there was a miscommunication on how the springs section was supposed to be amended, and will be changed as it moves through the Senate. She promised activists and environmentalists attending the meeting that it would be correcting.
The bill also has several other provisions, including:
- Establishing a wastewater grant program within the Department of Environmental Protection.
- Revising the state’s requirements for basin management action plans.
- Requiring a wastewater treatment plant to notify customers of unlawful discharges of raw or partially treated sewage into any waterway or aquifer within a specified time frame.
- Adding the Indian River Lagoon to a list of waterways where it is prohibited to dispose any sanitary sewage disposal without providing advanced waste treatment approved by DEP.
The wastewater grant program proposed in Mayfield’s bill would only be applicable for local projects that retrofit onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems, construct, upgrade, or expand facilities to provide advanced waste treatment and connect septic tanks to sewage systems.
The bill says the program’s administrators must give a priority to fund septic to sewer conversion projects or any projects that would cover the cost of inspecting and assessing septic tanks.
Florida League of Cities lobbyist Rebecca O’Hare said she is concerned with the high cost of upgrading wastewater treatment facilities, pointing out that costs would eventually go to utility customers and taxpayers.
“We want to make sure what we do is workable and affordable,” O’Hare said.
Mayfield said many people would accept higher costs if they know it’s going to the right place instead of a general revenue fund, and said she has grown tired of people trying to make excuses about not starting water quality projects.
“If we’re don’t do something now, when are we going to do it?”