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springs

Long-awaited water policy bill passes House committee

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A House budget panel on agriculture and the environment passed an expansive water policy bill by Rep. Matt Caldwell Wednesday afternoon. The House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Committee approved HB 7005 by a vote of 11 to 1, with Democratic Rep. José Javier Rodríguez opposing. The state’s Department of Environmental Protection has signaled its approval for the bill, as did a number of business-backed groups such as Associated Industries of Florida and Florida Chamber of Commerce, while some environmentalists stay on the fence. Stephanie Kunkel, a lobbyist with the…

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House water bill language finds a new home as session winds down

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Language from a comprehensive House water bill was added on Thursday to other environmental legislation in the House over objections from Democrats. But the water bill language lacks key components of the Senate bill that is important to that chamber’s leadership, raising questions about whether the move represents gamesmanship between the two chambers. And some environmentalists say they’d prefer to see the bills die, effectively ending what some observers predicted would be the “year of water” in the Legislature. HB…

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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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Bill delay septic waste ban passes House with calls for study, springs protection

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A bill that delays a ban on the disposal of septic tank waste on farm fields across the state passed the House in anticipation of a state study of the waste disposal practice. Florida has 2.6 million septic tanks scattered across the state that annually produce 100 million gallons of waste, called septage, when they are pumped out. About 40 percent is spread at 88 land application sites across the state, according to the Florida Department of Health. In 2010,…

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House vote could allow septic tank waste to continue spreading on land

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A bill that would allow septic tank maintenance firms to continue spreading waste on fields for two more years is teed up for approval in the House on Thursday. In 2010, the Legislature voted to ban the land application of septic tank waste beginning in 2016 as part of a bill that supporters said would protect springs and waterways from nutrient pollution. Septic tank waste haulers and representatives of rural counties now say the ban could cause the price of septic tank pump-outs…

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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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