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Floridians Worry About Water Quality – Willing to Pay to Fix It

As of today, Governor DeSantis has yet to sign the Clean Waterways Act that was passed by the 2020 Legislature.  Ideally, as outlined in our letter to the Governor he will make the signing a true celebration by accompanying the bill with the funding necessary to fully implement and make the legislation effective. CWC continues to advocate for the Governor to incrementally restore WaterManagement Districts millage rates by executive order to generate adequate funding for local governments to build water quality improvement projects.  Our proposal would generate approximately $160 million a year.  For the median priced home – valued at $237,000, the rate increase would only cost about $1.56 per month for homestead property. To test public attitudes about our proposed Water Management District rate increase, the Clean Water Coalition of Indian River County, together with the Brevard Indian River Lagoon Coalition hired Florida Atlantic University (FAU) to conduct a statewide poll of Floridians views on the quality of Florida’s waterways. As identified in the Executive Summary from the FAU report, most people are prepared to pay higher fees for projects to cleanup Florida waterways.  “Overall 62% of Floridians are willing to pay $2 per month to help pay for projects to clean up our waterways”.

Clean Water Legislation Update

The Clean Water Coalition has worked closely with Senator Mayfield over the past 2 years to address water quality issues.  The original Clean Waterways Act legislation introduced by Senator Mayfield was highly promising; however, amendments weakened the bill and reduced its potential to effectively address water pollution endemic throughout Florida.  As passed by the Legislature, the Act does not effectively address agricultural lands, which add significant quantities of polluting nutrients to surrounding waters. In spite of its shortcomings, with sustained and adequate funding together with more stringent rule implementation and enforcement, the Clean Waterways Act has the potential to significantly reduce pollution from septic tanks, wastewater treatment facilities and stormwater discharges. We need comprehensive government and private sector action to properly manage human waste, including the land application of sewer sludge – commonly referenced as “biosolids” - created by the disposal of waste generated by 21 Million people in Florida.  We need 21st century technology for facilities to process human waste that eliminate the need for the land disposal of biosolids, along with Advanced Wastewater Treatment to fully treat our human waste stream. Technology exists which largely eliminates the pollution from human waste and destroys all pathogens, toxic chemicals and substances of emerging concern.  We urge Governor DeSantis to direct FDEP to support investment in state-of-the-art wastewater treatment facilities; as a model to end the historical practice of nutrient-rich effluent discharges and use of rural lands as biosolids dumpsites. The CWC requests your support. Please consider writing Governor DeSantis urging him to restore the Water Management Districts millage rates to provide funding for water quality improvement projects.

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