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On Friday, the latest version of The Florida Springs and Aquifer Protection was posted at http://www.flsenate.gov along with an analysis of the bill.

The bill is scheduled to be heard by the entire Senate on Wednesday, April 30.

While much improved, the bill continues to put property owners in a very vulnerable position. Following is the CPR Bill Analysis:

The Florida Springs and Aquifer Protection Act

Analysis of CS/CS/CS/SB 1576

Introduction

The issue of protecting and preserving water in Florida must be addressed on two levels: water quantity and water quality. This bill addresses one of those issues: water quality.

The best vehicle for addresses the water quality issue is the Department of Environmental Protection’s Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP) process. It allows local stakeholders to address any and all potential pollution sources and remediate them in a site-specific manner. Only a lack of funding limits its speed and progress.

Problems with CS/CS/CS/SB 1576

After substantial, last minute changes in last Wednesday’s Senate Appropriations Committee, this bill still has the following problems which renders it ineffective in achieving springs and aquifer protection.

1.The bill requires no scientific basis to identify potential pollution sources. In fact, in 24 pages of language, the words “science,” “scientific basis,” or “scientific evidence,” do not appear once. This begs the question: how does one know if there is a problem without any objective, scientific facts or data? Regardless of which potential sources are being considered as possible polluters (septic systems, exfiltration from sewer lines, fertilizer, etc.), there must be scientific evidence to document/confirm a source of pollution and the extent of its contribution. Despite this simple logic, the bill (line 424) calls for nothing more than “the estimated nutrient loading of the onsite sewage treatment and disposal system or systems.” On page 24 of the bill analysis, one of the considerations when prioritizing projects is “the quantity of pollutants the project is estimated to remove…”

Years of study are not needed to achieve scientific data. But, until scientific sampling becomes the foundation for decision making, billions of tax dollars could be spent chasing assumptions, estimates and computer models.

2.The bill does not provide sufficient funding for its requirements.Until last week’s Appropriations Committee, the bill called for approximately $370M of funding every year for projects. Saturday’s conference committee settled on $30M to be appropriated in the current budget. Future projects will need to be funded once again every year.

When legislators create mandated, artificial or theoretical deadlines and requirements yet, have no realistic, agreed upon plans among stakeholders for funding, it ignites confusion and fear. Moreover, rulemaking authority is given to multiple agencies with no oversight mechanism, including that of the legislature. Cities and counties begin to question whether or not they will have to increase property taxes to pay for mandated projects. Utility companies wonder if they will need to raise rates or establish surcharges. In the end, however, this puts local property owners in the position of having to comply with mandated dates and pay for mandated projects be it through out-of pocket expenses, increased taxes, or increased utility rates.

Protect and Preserve Florida’s Waters

Florida’s water issues of quantity and quality deserve a well thought through plan. In light of the huge amounts of money that will be needed (estimated to cost billions), mistakes costing money and time must be avoided. A scientific approach to identifying pollution sources and remediating such sources must be utilized. It should be noted that Governor Scott has recommended $55M (the most ever) for springs’ protection in the 2014-2015 budget.

The recipe for success is the BMAP process, the involvement of site specific, sincere stakeholders, a science-based foundation for decision making, and funded local projects. This will allow projects to be well coordinated and synergized to make them most cost effective.

What Next?

CPR urges you to express your thoughts and concerns to your personal Senator and Representative now. These are the elected officials you have hired to work for you. If they are the kind of officials who listen to their constituents, your opinion can make a huge difference.

To obtain their contact information visit: http://www.flsenate.gov or http://www.myfloridahouse.gov.

Founding Father Alexander Hamilton said,

“One great object of government is personal protection and the security of property.”

CPR will be in Tallahassee this last week of the 2014 Legislative Session speaking up for your property rights. Your voice is critical now.

CPR continues to need your help if it is to be an effective voice. This week your help is critical. Would you please help fight this legislative battle by visiting: http://www.proprights.com. Click on the donate tab to access our Pay Pal account. You can also mail a donation to CPR at 2878 S. Osceola Avenue, Orlando, FL 32806.

Thank you very much.

Dan Peterson, Executive Director

info@proprights.com

407-481-2289