With more than 300,000 people a year calling Florida their new home, long-term investments in water will be essential. An increased population means an increased need for vital resources such as water, and with the state’s population expected to balloon by 4.5 million over the next ten years, legislators are being proactive in their approach to protect and maintain the future of Florida’s water infrastructure.
This week, the Florida Chamber, a business advocacy group responsible for protecting Florida’s Constitution from special interest groups, held its weekly web-based program to discuss the controversial issue. On the latest edition of the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line, State Representative Bobby Payne discussed the importance of improving Florida’s water quality.
Payne, a Republican lawmaker representing House District 19, sponsored (HB 1343) a bill designed to protect the health of Florida’s water systems by collecting improved data, increasing inspections and investing in septic to sewer conversations.
“I would say it’s a comprehensive package that really looks at how we’re going to address nutrient loading coming from our water bodies,” Payne said. “Those loadings are coming from on-site sewage treatment systems, sanitary sewer overflows, domestic wastewater overflows, some agricultural BNPs that we need to tighten up and get some better records on. Let’s face it, we know we’re at a point, and the Governor pointed it out, if we don’t do some things now, we’ll continue to have problems in the future.”
Payne also discusses the importance of not allowing the “Rights of Nature” to have legal standing.
“This bill prohibits local communities, local municipalities, or districts from granting rights to trees or water bodies,” Representative Payne said. “Rights are granted to humans. Rights are of humans, they’re not of those things in nature.”
Payne’s measure would crack down on water sewage by creating a wastewater grant program that would transfer the state’s septic-to-sewer conversion program from the Department of Health (DOH) to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) by 2022. The legislation would also revise regulations dealing with stormwater, sewage treatment, biosolids and agricultural runoff