This is part of a series by the League of Women Voters of Citrus County about Florida’s legislative process and issues. The purpose is to increase citizen understanding and engagement.
The 2021 Florida legislative session is well past the halfway point. Several bills that impact our Florida environment are moving through committees towards votes on the Senate and House floor. This column will highlight water and energy infrastructure bills and include League of Women Voters of Florida (LWVFL) positions. These bills will impact our water quality, our energy infrastructure, and our daily lives.
SB 1522/HB 1225, Implementation of the Recommendations of Blue-Green Algae Task Force. This bill would put into law recommendations made by the Blue-Green Algae Task Force (BGATF) in their 2019 report. Gov. Ron DeSantis created this panel of prominent scientists to give the state a blueprint “to improve water quality for all Floridians.”
SB 1522 originally included eight of the BGATF’s recommendations. Unfortunately, the bill was amended to remove provisions seeking to reduce agricultural nutrient pollution. Nitrogen residue caused by agriculture is a large source of water pollution in Citrus County. Only three recommendations remain in the bill. Most significantly, SB 1522 would require all septic systems to be inspected once every five years, beginning with systems near Outstanding Florida Springs like Homosassa, Chassahowitzka, and King’s Bay.
LWVFL supports SB 1522/HB 1225. Implementing these long-overdue recommendations will help reduce the pollution/nutrients that cause the destructive, toxic, slimy algae blooms. Blue-green algae appears in our springs, rivers, lakes, and coastal waters. Along with Red Tide, blue-green algae devastated tourism in 2018 and continues to threaten water quality. Algae outbreaks are fueled by pollutants such as human waste from septic tanks, and excess nutrients in runoff from turf and agricultural sources including animal waste.
The current wastewater flooding at Piney Point in Manatee County shows the importance of strategic, long-term planning for overall water quality, and demonstrates the devastating impact of inaction.
The good news is that SB 1522/HB 1225 has bipartisan support and is moving through committees. Passing this bill will be a step forward to addressing our algae crisis.
State preemption of local energy decisions
The Florida Constitution grants local governments broad home rule authority. Preemption by the state takes that authority away from local governments — the entity closest to the people — and instead centralizes it at the state level. The Florida Legislature is moving towards passage of several bills…