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When it was originally filed the Clean Waterways Act (SB 1758) gave great hope to people across our state because it benefited all of Florida’s waters and addressed all major water pollution sources.
Unfortunately, at the behest of lobbyists for Florida’s largest landowners and agriculture producers, the bill was significantly weakened to continue to give agriculture a free pass to pollute our waters, to permit water quality plans which do not achieve water quality goals, and to put the costs of improving water quality on homeowners and ratepayers, even when agriculture is a major pollution source. The result is a bill that leaves more than half of our impaired Outstanding Florida Springs behind with no hope of recovery.
The bill was weakened by removing a provision instructing DEP and DACS to develop and adopt advanced agricultural best management practices for Outstanding Florida Springs where agriculture is a significant source of nutrient pollution. As the bill stands now, it draws a line across our state dividing the springs that get saved (those polluted by septic tanks and wastewater) and those that are left behind (those polluted by agriculture).
The table below comes straight from the Basin Management Action Plans proposed by the DEP last year. It clearly illustrates that for Rainbow, Silver, Homosassa, Chassahowtizka, Jackson Blue Springs and the numerous Outstanding Florida Springs which feed the Suwannee and Santa Fe Rivers there is no way to achieve water quality goals without advanced agricultural best management practices.
DEP recommends advanced best management practices as the primary means of achieving additional water quality gains in each BMAP, which his why it is so essential that we begin developing these advanced practices immediately.
Additionally, the amendment removed a common sense provision which requires DEP to develop water quality plans which meet water quality goals (the purpose of the plans) and allocate pollutant load reductions to each major category of polluter. If we allow DEP to adopt plans that do not meet water quality goals, we are planning for failure.