Why it’s needed. Complete list of Representatives on the Committee. Important dates in the Calendar for this committee and for Senator Charles Dean’s Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee. More lawsuits filed against EPA Numeric Nutrient Criteria Rules.
This article covers the topics being discussed in the new Select Committee on Water Resources, including the role of the state’s water management districts in planning for future water resources. We are following the work of this committee carefully because the impact on residents with septic systems is necessarily involved. There has been plenty of “buzz” about the aquifer being depleted and rivers and streams becoming a necessary source of potable water. If our state looks to withdraw water from streams and rivers, surface water quality becomes an issue and, although the science is definitely in question, septic owners have already been targeted by EPA, FDEP and DOH as a source of surface water pollution.
We welcome the creation and work of this committee as there are far too many competing interests and layers of bureaucracy covering and having authority over water issues. As an example, in 2009 the St. John’s Water Management District made an extremely controversial decision to issue a permit to the Niagara Bottling Company. The permit allowed the company to withdraw 500,000 gallons a day from the aquifer. The city of Groveland challenged that decision and, when faced with Niagara’s overwhelming legal resources, was finally was forced to drop the challenge. The settlement with Niagara will cost the small city 1.35 million dollars in lost property tax revenues which is being used as a financial offset to settle a countersuit by Niagara.
Several far-reaching scenarios, serious questions about fragmented policy, and too many water chiefs working in opposition to each other are evident in that decision. The impact on residents is costly, not to mention, unfair. Residents are under water use restrictions and pay ever increasing water use rates. In some areas of our state, permitting of residential wells is in question. Some are suggesting wells may be metered and billed for withdrawing water from the aquifer…..while Niagara is not metered and pays nothing for the on-going use of our resource. The justification was it created 40 new jobs, most in the $25K/yr range.
When permits like this are issued, it stands to reason that the water flows to our rivers and streams are diminished. In the Wekiva Area, the FDEP Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP) experts cite reduced flow to the Wekiva River as one of the causes of nutrient concentrations and, in turn, the committee makes plans to set nutrient reduction targets for each identified source of “pollution”, including septic systems and fertilizers. Certainly withdrawing 500,000 gallons a day from the aquifer reduces flow, although residential growth and drought are cited as the reason for the reduced flow.
Questions. Can we assume Niagara, in its corporate wisdom, had ample evidence of sufficient, long-term aquifer resources before they embarked on their plan to build a water bottling plant? How many residents would it take to consume 500,000 gallons of water a day? The answer is 7,144, and all would pay for it. Is it decisions like this that force the state to consider the use of surface water to accommodate future residential and economic growth? If septic systems are polluting the aquifer, as some have claimed, why would Niagara even consider using it for bottling purposes?
Our sincere hope is that the Select Committee on Water Resources can serve to bring some orderliness, common sense, and fairness to these discussions. We have seen opinion, clout, fuzzy science, bureaucracies acting like two-headed llamas pulling in opposite directions, and residents exhausted with the effort of defending themselves against knee-jerk rules that have no logical, scientific, or constitutional basis. This is a good beginning, and we will have opportunities to interact with this committee. We’ll keep you posted as its work progresses.
Members of the Select Committee on Water Policy include the following Representatives:
Trudi Williams (Chair), Brad Drake (Vice Chair), Franklin Sands, Leonard Bembry, Jason Brodeur, Matthew Caldwell, Evan Jenne, Charles McBurney, Bryan Nelson, Steven Perman, Ray Pilon, Patrick Rooney, Jr., Greg Steube, Dwayne Taylor, and Charles Van Zant. Meetings of the Committee are published in www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Committees
More news to review
Select Committee on Water Resources will hold its next meeting on
Thursday, January 27 from 10:15 to 12:15, Room 404 of the House Office Building.
The following web sites have published information of interest to our readers:
Panama Counties and Cities Challenge Validity, Math and Projected Outcome of EPA’s Numeric Nutrient Criteria.
Florida Stormwater Association and the Florida League of Cities join in filing a lawsuit seeking injunctive relief from EPA NNC being imposed on the State of Florida. Website provides a complete review of actual filing, additional summaries from FSA and the FL League of Cities
Summarized from “Life in Altamonte Springs City Magazine, Vol VIII #6: City of Maitland estimates the cost to comply with EPA’s Numeric Nutrient Criteria may be as much as $54 Million for storm water and wastewater treatment plant upgrades. The city of Maitland has engaged the services of an environmental law firm to represent the city’s concerns.