New Florida Law Proposed to Improve Water Quality
On Tuesday, June 30th, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a measure meant to improve water quality throughout the state of Florida.
The new law, donned the Clean Waterways Act, is already in effect. The goal is to tackle the worst of the state’s water pollution by transferring oversight of Florida’s septic system from the Department of Health to the Department of Environmental Protection by 2021. In areas susceptible to nutrient pollution, plans have been put in place to fund projects such Basin Management for wastewater. Utilities will be required to develop maintenance and replacement plans for their personal wastewater systems.
The law also includes a mandate to prohibit wastewater treatment facilities from dumping sewage into Indian River Lagoon, an area known for high levels of brown tide1. This mandate will go into effect in July 2025.
There is both support and criticism of the bill. Environmentalists believe there should be tougher sanctions on agriculture, saying that is the cause of most nutrient pollution in Florida waterways and causes algal blooms2. To combat this form of pollution, DeSantis passed a budget of $25 million for the upcoming fiscal year.
A big success of the bill is the usage of more agricultural departments to conduct inspections on ranchers, farmers, and various types of pollution. Departments will now be required to report fertilization and nutrient records from agricultural producers, in collaboration with research institutions attempting to fund nutrient reduction programs.
1a large are of seawater discolored by growth of single-celled algae
2a rapid increase in the amount of algae in freshwater or marine water systems