Senate Bill 712 Has Surprises

tallyMayfield Albritton In: Senate Bill 712 Has Surprises | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. | Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida
Sen. Albritton with bottled water.  There was a large container of fresh water with paper cups only a few feet from the senator. This is one of the growing water issues in Florida. The senator is not known as an advocate for the environment, and has voted for fracking bills. Photo by Jim Tatum

 

DebbieMayfield In: Senate Bill 712 Has Surprises | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. | Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida
Sen. Debbie Mayfield worked long and hard to write a good bill.

A monumental 112 page bill (SB 712) sponsored  by Sen. Debbie Mayfield passed its final committee yesterday (Feb. 20, 2020) and is headed to the Senate floor.   This ambitious bill  tries to fix all of Florida’s water issues —  nutrient overload sources, BMAPs, BMPs, septics, wastewater disposal and even bottled water.

Added to this bill at the last minute is the pre-emption of local authorities to make decisions on Rights of Nature (RON.)  This is an example of dirty politics sticking an amendment on an unrelated topic onto a bill that is destined to pass.

Greedy polluters are terrified of this issue, as it has the potential to cost  them money.

Several environmental groups had representatives, mostly organized by Florida Springs Council Executive Director Smart with help from Sierra Club.  OSFR was well represented by four board members.

tally Mayfield mmj In: Senate Bill 712 Has Surprises | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. | Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida
Board member Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson

tally Mayfield kristin In: Senate Bill 712 Has Surprises | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. | Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida
Board member Kristin Rubin

tally Mayfield Mike In: Senate Bill 712 Has Surprises | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. | Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida
OSFR President Mike Roth

Besides the RON issue, there are other things in the bill which we oppose (such as deep well injection for wastewater), but overall this is a bill which does much more than address blue algae/red tide down south.  This addresses issues throughout the state.

In retrospect it seems the environmentalists may have not given sufficient credit to Sen. Mayfield, who genuinely tried to write a bill that would solve the problems and please everyone.  She met with many groups, including Sierra Club and water management districts to learn about the issues and solutions to the problems.

tally Mayfield lee In: Senate Bill 712 Has Surprises | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. | Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida
Sen. Tom Lee

Senator Tom Lee objected strenuously to the bill when suddenly and without warning language was inserted into the bill which called for only one vote instead of three members of the cabinet to appoint the Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection.  This late-filed amendment caused him to be the one dissenting vote on the entire bill.  The bill passed: 20 yeas and one  nay.

tally Mayfield Steverson In: Senate Bill 712 Has Surprises | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. | Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida
Ex DEP secretary John Steverson promotes bottled water.

Unexpectedly, the issue of bottled water came up, including Seven Springs Water Company and Nestle Waters North America.  Each company was represented by a lawyer, the former by ex-secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection John Steverson, and the latter by Laura Donaldson.

tally Mayfield donaldson In: Senate Bill 712 Has Surprises | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. | Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida
Nestle lawyer Laura Donaldson

That Nestle and Seven Springs should send lawyers to speak for them might indicate they are running scared.  Nestle’s recent flurry of propaganda television advertisements bolsters this suspicion.

The bottled water topic includes about two pages of language describing the DEP’s intent to study this industry in Florida.  Included here is a proposal requiring  a unanimous vote by water management board members in order to issue a bottling permit.   .

tally Mayfield Cullen In: Senate Bill 712 Has Surprises | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. | Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida   tally Mayfield In: Senate Bill 712 Has Surprises | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. | Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida tally Mayfield Noah In: Senate Bill 712 Has Surprises | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. | Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida
Dave Cullen        Maxine Conner    Noah Valenstein

Although a bit long, we feel the importance of this topic merits the inclusion of the new proposed water bottling references.  They are as follows:

Section 5. Subsections (7) and (8) are added to section 157 373.223, Florida Statutes, to read: 158
373.223 Conditions for a permit.— 159
(7) A consumptive use permit to use water derived from a 160 spring for bottled water as defined in s. 500.03 may only be 161 approved by unanimous vote by the governing board finding that 162 the applicant meets the criteria in subsection (1). This 163 subsection shall expire on June 30, 2022. 164
(8) The Department of Environmental Protection shall, in 165 coordination with the water management districts, conduct a 166 study on the bottled water industry in Florida. 167
(a) The study must do all of the following: 168
1. Identify all springs statewide that have an associated 169 consumptive use permit for a bottled water facility producing 170 its product with water derived from a spring as well as: 171
a. The magnitude of the spring; 172
b. Whether the spring has been identified as an Outstanding 173 Florida Spring as defined in s. 373.802; 174
c. Any department or water management district adopted 175 minimum flow or minimum water levels, the status of any adopted 176 minimum flow or minimum water levels, and any associated 177 recovery or prevention strategy; 178
d. The permitted and actual use associated with the 179 consumptive use permits; 180
e. The reduction in flow associated with the permitted and 181 actual use associated with the consumptive use permits; 182
f. The impact on springs of bottled water facilities as 183 compared to other users; and 184
Florida Senate – 2020 COMMITTEE AMENDMENT
Bill No. PCS (413536) for CS for SB 712
Ì412518*Î412518
Page 8 of 112
2/19/2020 12:54:44 PM 576-03883A-20
g. Types of water conservation measures employed at bottled 185 water facilities permitted to derive water from a spring. 186
2. Identify the labeling and marketing regulations 187 associated with the identification of bottled water as spring 188 water, including whether these regulations incentivize the 189 withdrawal of water from springs. 190
3. Evaluate the direct and indirect economic benefits to 191 the local communities resulting from bottled water facilities 192 that derive water from springs, including but not limited to tax 193 revenue, job creation and wages. 194
4. Evaluate the direct and indirect costs to the local 195 communities located in proximity to springs impacted by 196 withdrawals from bottled water production, including, but not 197 limited to, the decreased recreational value of the spring and 198 the cost to other users for the development of alternative water 199 supply or reductions in permit durations and allocations. 200
5. Include a cost-benefit analysis of withdrawing, 201 producing, marketing, selling, and consuming spring water as 202 compared to other sources of bottled water. 203
6. Evaluate how much bottled water derived from Florida 204 springs is sold in this state. 205
(b) The department shall submit a report containing the 206 findings of the study to the Governor, the President of the 207 Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the 208 Office of Economic and Demographic Research by June 30, 2021. 209
(c) As used in this section, the term “bottled water” has 210 the same meaning as in s. 500.03 and the term “water derived 211 from a spring” means water derived from an underground formation 212 from which water flows naturally to the surface of the earth in 213
Florida Senate – 2020 COMMITTEE AMENDMENT
Bill No. PCS (413536) for CS for SB 712
Ì412518*Î412518

tally Mayfield group In: Senate Bill 712 Has Surprises | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. | Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida
This is most of the group organized by Florida Springs Council and Sierra Club.

Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
[email protected]
– A river is like a life: once taken,
it cannot be brought back © Jim Tatum


3 Comments

  1. Thanks Jim for a great article and many thanks to our water warriors going to the meetings and speaking at the podium defending of our precious springs.

  2. It’s overall a positive bill that just lacks the enforcement power to make it really valuable for the Santa Fe and its Springs. Oh, and that preemption language has got to go!

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