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SB 918

Senate bill clears final committee stop despite concerns from counties, environmentalists

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A Senate water bill passed its final committee stop on Tuesday despite continuing concerns raised by counties and environmentalists. SB 918 replaces a Lake Okeechobee pollution permitting program with more reliance on water cleanup plans, sets deadlines for establishing minimum flow levels for springs, sets timelines for springs cleanup plans and creates a statewide advisory council to recommend funding for water projects. Sen. Charlie Dean, a Republican from Inverness who is bill sponsor, said SB 918 is close to matching…

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Springs bill in Senate disappoints some environmentalists

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Last year a comprehensive water bill that passed the Senate included a major focus on Florida’s springs and reducing threats from groundwater pollution and over-pumping. Florida’s springs during the past 30 years have turned green with algae because of nitrogen in groundwater from various sources including septic tanks, fertilizer and sewage treatment plants. Fixing the problems cost lots of money, and preventing further pollution requires regulations that are unpopular with rural landowners. The 2014 Senate bill, SB 1576, established springs…

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House speaker says water bills closer, advisory council could be sticking point

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House Speaker Steve Crisafulli said Wednesday that the Senate is getting closer to the House on a comprehensive water bill but some differences remain. SB 918 was rewritten in a committee on Wednesday in response to requests by business groups and environmentalists, both of whom had raised concerns. Both sides still have issues, with environmentalists still more critical of the Senate and House bills than business groups. The Senate bill would establish springs protection zones, provide consistency in pollution regulations dealing…

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Senate water bill clears committee with environmentalists and industry groups concerned

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Counties, agriculture, industry groups and environmentalists all were raising concerns Tuesday as a Senate committee passed its first version of a water bill. House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner have said passing water legislation is a top priority in the 2015 legislative session. The House bill, opposed by environmentalists, passed the chamber 106-9 on March 5. The Senate bill, SB 918, was amended Tuesday to include portions of the House bill, HB 7003, recognizing in state law…

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Senators press agencies for waterway cleanup plans in legislation

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Senators on a panel that pored over a House water bill on Wednesday said they’re going to want a detailed plan for cleaning up waterways in whatever legislation passes the Senate. HB 7003 recognizes the Central Florida Water Initiative in state law while eliminating a South Florida Water Management District farm permitting program for Lake Okeechobee in favor of agricultural “best management practices.” It requires the setting of minimum flows for springs simultaneously with setting recovery goals, which environmentalists say…

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Debate on House water bill moves to Senate

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Environmental groups continued Wednesday to criticize a House water bill in advance of a Senate committee workshop while an industry group said the legislation offers a statewide approach to Florida’s water needs. HB 7003 recognizes the Central Florida Water Initiative in state law while eliminating a South Florida Water Management District farm permitting program for Lake Okeechobee in favor of agricultural “best management practices.” It requires the setting of minimum flows for springs simultaneously with setting recovery goals, which environmentalists…

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House water bill passes as critics hope for better Senate legislation

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House Republican leaders praised a water policy bill that they passed on Thursday as a good start while the chamber’s Democratic leader called it bad legislation and joined environmentalists in hoping for better legislation from the Senate. HB 7003 passed the House 106-9 on the third day of the legislative session after about 45 minutes of debate. Nearly 30 Democrats joined House Republicans in voting for the legislation. “This is a good bill,” state Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-Lehigh Acres and…

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