Property Rights At Stake in the Florida Senate
The latest threat to property rights, not to mention just bad government policy, is
SB 1576 entitled, “An act relating to springs.”
It is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Committee on Environmental Protection and Conservation Thursday, March 20, at 8 AM. You can see the bill by going towww.flsenate.gov and inserting the bill number in the search engine.
Many, if not most, Floridians recognize the need to protect water quantity and quality. And, that certainly means protecting Florida’s springs and aquifer. Politicians know this and some want to join the stampede to pass “something” to “protect” springs. But, don’t be fooled…SB 1576 will not do that. Here’s why
SB 1576 needlessly targets septic systems as a significant contributor to nitrogen pollution.
In fact, there is no scientific evidence to show such. The only testing to have been done on real septic systems was conducted in 2007 in the Wekiva Study Area. Out of 55,000 septic systems in this area, only three were tested over a very short period of time. The report that was issued following the research warned to NOT consider these results as atypical and NOT to extrapolate these results to other septic systems. Subsequent reports have fraudulently called this “science.” This bill will throw taxpayer money away rather than contribute to protecting Florida’s water.
In fact, because the bill calls for connecting homes to sewer systems, evidence shows it will actually contribute to pollution. How could that be? Any industry expert will admit that, between a home and a waste treatment plant, a minimum of 10% of the raw sewage leaks from the sewer pipes into the environment.
Also of note, in 1997, in the Town of Suwanee, Florida, a wastewater treatment plant was constructed to combat problems of nutrient and bacterial pollution. Approximately 850 septic systems were closed and connected to the treatment plant. Based on river and canal water samples collected before construction and 10 years after construction, no significant change in the nitrogen content was found. The report specifically states septic systems were not the cause of the nitrogen pollution – as had been assumed.
SB 1576 creates a new layer of local government called a Responsible Management Entity (RME).
This entity will consist of non-elected appointees with rule making authority to “manage”all septic systems and do whatever they deem appropriate to “remediate” alleged pollution from septic systems. Additionally, the bill states they will have the “management skills, personnel, financial capacity, and technical expertise to properly operate and maintain” all septic systems and their expense structure. This duplicates the responsibilities already delegated by statute to the Department of Health, Bureau of On-Site Sewage and gives the RME’s the ability to assess additional fees to cover costs, whatever they are.
SB 1576 duplicates plans that are already working.
What many people do not know is that there is already an EPA approved process in place to protect springs. It is coordinated through the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and is called the Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP). TheBMAP committees already include regional representatives from counties and municipalities with the expertise to identify, design, and implement projects likely to achieve clean water standards, including those that impact surface water, ground water, and springs.
SB 1576 incorporates the precautionary principle by calling for “prevention”strategies. It justifies rule-making and land acquisition hoping to “remediate” anything that MIGHT be a threat. It is possible that this prevention strategy could trigger eminent domain action in the name of “preventing” or stopping potential harm to water quality, and do it in the name of the public good. This is the philosophy of the extreme sustainable development movement and is a means to discredit and ignore property rights, legislative oversight, and accountability.
Property owners should look carefully at SB 1576 and be very wary of it