Florida Sen. Debbie Mayfield septic tank, wastewater bill amended

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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.

"I will fix it. I promise you, I will fix it," she said.