A refreshingly sensible water bill in the state Legislature would make it easier for utilities to invest in drinking water sources other than our imperiled groundwater supplies.
Tampa Rep. Dana Young sponsored an identical measure last year that passed unanimously in the House, but its companion bill stalled in the Senate.
This year both chambers should adopt her measure, which allows utilities to receive longer permits for the production of alternative water sources, such as desalination. Under current law, the standard permit lasts 20 years. The restriction can drive up bonds rates and the costs of financing construction, and thus discourage utilities from making the long-term investment.
Young’s bill would allow permits for alternative water supplies to be issued for 30 years and up to 37 years, depending upon when the bonds are issued for construction.
Some environmentalists worry about giving utilities such a long-term commitment to the water. Their concern should be the long-term depletion of our underground water, already threatened by overpumping and pollution.
As Young told The Florida Current website, “In Florida today, it is vital that we look to the construction of alternative water supply infrastructure and preserve our groundwater to the greatest extent possible.”
The measure would make it more economically feasible for utilities to pursue alternative water sources.
Florida Audubon, a stalwart defender of state waters, supports the measure. So should the Florida Legislature.