HB 7003 House Water Bill Rushed to a Vote - Bad for Lake O, Estuaries Water Quality
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A controversial water bill with wide-ranging impacts on water quality and water supply was fast tracked and passed on the House floor the third day of session! We have serious concerns about this bill and need your help to speak up. Urge the Senate Environmental Preservation & Conservation Committee to reject HB 7003. A few of the issues we have with the bill:
The bill removes water quality requirements at structures surrounding Lake Okeechobee. This would delete water quality standards and treatment for nitrogen, a major pollutant for the lake and downstream waters in the estuaries and Everglades. The change would allow 6,000 tons of nitrogen to move from the Kissimmee basin into and through Lake O to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers and estuaries. Our Caloosahatchee is
impaired for nitrogen and 40% of the nitrogen comes from the lake, so eliminating water quality permits and standards will allow nitrogen pollution to flow into the Caloosahatchee unabated.
Phosphorus pollution under this bill will be solely addressed through a Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP) that covers only 40 % of the Lake O watershed and relies on voluntary BMPs (Best Management Practices) that we know are:
2) Not required to be site-specific for addressing pollution sources
3) Provide the land owner a hold harmless “presumption of compliance” with water quality standards.
The bill also eliminates any deadlines for clean up and allows nutrient-laden excess reuse water to be dumped into recreational surface waters without any effort to clean the water. Nothing short of water quality standards, focused on controlling the sources of pollution with defined nutrient reductions, monitoring and timelines will achieve any water quality improvements.
On the supply side the bill focuses on funding private development of expensive alternative water development projects while ignoring the easiest and most cost effective solution: water conservation.
HB 7003 also fails to address a problem in state water planning: assuring freshwater supplies for natural systems including lakes, springs, rivers and estuaries. These critical water and recreational features are not included in water supply allocations resulting in over allocation of water through permits that shifts the harm and burden of water shortages to the natural systems that suffer algal blooms and salt water intrusion.
We need your voice to help send a clear message to Tallahassee that they do everything in their power to provide clean and sufficient water for our state. That our water challenges from Orlando to Lake O to the coastal estuaries and Everglades are too serious to remove protections. That water supply and water quality needs to be addressed comprehensively. We need enforceable nutrient reductions that effectively address both source controls and water downstream. This vital public resource is the basis for our economy and must be protected. Urge the Senate to oppose HB 7003.
Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation
3333 Sanibel-Captiva Road
Sanibel, FL 33957