A pair of environmental bills aimed at improving water quality regulations began moving in the Florida Legislature with bipartisan support as lawmakers work to address the algae problems that have plagued the state.
One bill would result in fines for municipalities after sewage spills, while the other would increase regulations on the spreading of human waste left over from the municipal sewage treatment process. Algae blooms such as red tide can feed off of the nutrients in human waste.
The three types of algae – red tide, brown tide and blue-green algae – were all found in waterways last year, causing significant damage not only to the water but to tourism.
This is the first major algae-related water quality regulation bills to gain any traction in this year’s legislative session.
The first bill, sewage spill measure, would fine municipalities $1 for every gallon spilled. To avoid paying the fine a utility provider could also “spend $2 for each gallon (spilled) to upgrade or remediate the problems that gave rise to the unlawful discharge,” according to the legislation.
The bill also includes a public notice requirement that would put pressure on municipalities by forcing them to send a letter to homeowners when there is a spill nearby.
Both bills have passed significant steps and as the legislative session carries forward, Floridians will be keeping an eye on both.
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