Governor Ron DeSantis announced on Wednesday a new clean water legislative package that will work to stop toxic blue-green algae, while imposing substantial fines for sewage spills that occur from old infrastructure.
In discussing the plan during a visit in Jupiter, DeSantis said, “We’ve seen the consequences of sewage being strewn into places like down in Miami, like in the Tampa Bay area. I think it will, if enacted, make substantial improvements to water quality across the state.”
The new legislation forces wastewater centers to develop plans for maintaining their infrastructure, and calls for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to work with local universities on measuring the impact of agricultural runoff, as well as storm water drainage.
Today, I joined environmental stakeholders to announce comprehensive legislation that I will be supporting this upcoming legislative session that will significantly improve the state's water quality. pic.twitter.com/AcGUwLFMWm
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) October 16, 2019
DeSantis continued, “Our solution would require utilities to develop inspection, maintenance and replacement plans for their wastewater systems, rather than continuing to allow these systems to age and fall into even greater disrepair.”
Additionally, preventive inspections will be conducted more frequently at treatment plants, and authorities who are transferred from the health department to the DEP for septic tanks will help to prevent spills and reduce nutrient flows into the waterways.
According to DeSantis, Florida is home to more than 10 percent, or 2.6 million, of the country’s septic tanks. More than 320 million gallons of sewage have spilled into the state’s waterways over the past two years.
The governor’s advisory Blue-Green Algae Task Force recommended the need for the legislation, which is in addition to a three-year, recurring legislative allocation of about $625 million to address clean water issues throughout the state.