Politics

Florida Water Supply Focus of House Review into Governor’s Environmental Budget

By: Jim Turner | Posted: February 8, 2013 3:55 AM
Ben Albritton

Rep. Ben Albritton | Credit: myfloridahouse.gov

Gov. Rick Scott’s $2.9 billion environmental fiscal plan moved through its first House budget review Thursday with few impediments breaking the surface.

However, the chairman of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee wants to take an in-depth look into several portions of the plan -- water, beach renourishment, a potential land preservation inventory, and water management districts -- before recommendations are made on the governor’s fiscal package.

“I want the members to learn more about this waste water and storm water, and it really boils down to the topic of water,” said Committee Chairman Rep. Ben Albritton, R-Wauchula.

“In the next 10 to 20 years, the topic that will keep this Capitol alit is going to be water. So as chairman I believe a better educated commission makes better decisions and my goal is to talk about water a lot.”

Scott’s budget for the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Agricultural and Consumer Services, Citrus and the Department of Environmental Protection overall is down $28.6 million, with a big chunk the elimination of 156 positions, from the current fiscal year.

Among his proposals, Scott is asking for:

-- $60 million for Everglades restoration.

-- $75 million for land acquisition and Florida Forever.

-- $25 million for beach projects.

-- $135 million for the petroleum tank cleanup program.

-- $215.6 million for the construction of drinking and waste water facilities.

-- $7.1 million for natural spring protection.

-- $5 million for citrus research and protection.

-- $3 million for Apalachicola Bay, including a study on what is needed to revive the ill Panhandle waterway.

-- $8 million to fix the levee system in Palm Beach County which was exposed last year during Tropical Storm Isaac.

-- $3.8 million for the continued eradication of giant African land snails from South Florida.

-- $3.1 million for new wildfire fighting equipment.

-- $2.5 million to build up the state’s school lunch program.

For Albritton, advancing Florida’s farm-to-school lunch program is a priority.

“The opportunity to connect farmers to the plate we’re giving our children, what a huge opportunity, especially in a state that can grow almost anything, nearly year round,” Albritton said.

Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, the Democratic ranking member of the committee, praised the proposal to improve flood control in West Palm Beach. Meanwhile, Rep. Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach, questioned the land snail program that is projected to last five years.

“Maybe by the time I’m out of my term we’ll have them eradicated,” Mayfield said.



Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.

Comments (5)

simon barlow
4:30AM AUG 18TH 2014
Hi,

I'm a water engineer. I watched a couple of the reviews and they're really great! if there are any other review’s, please post them here.
wbp
11:26AM FEB 13TH 2013
rick scott and the republican legislatures plan from the beginning has always been to make sure there are not enough employees to enforce the laws we have. get what you want by default, if you can't eliminate it.
dep and the water management districts don't do anything but permit what they are told to permit.
disgusting and criminal.
LDouglas
8:54PM FEB 8TH 2013
I thought the following was worth sharing. It's from an e-mail from Linda Young, Director
Florida Clean Water Network

"GOOD NEWS - The US EPA finally pushed back a little on Florida's pro-polluter plan to allow high levels of toxic chemicals in our drinking water and in the fish we eat. This made the latest proposed regulations for some of the approximately 70 toxic chemicals slightly less bad than DEP's last proposal. That is not much to cheer about but it is a small step forward and the first time that I have seen EPA doing anything in the public interest since Bill Clinton was President.

So for the 70 (plus or minus) human-health based toxic chemicals that are proposed for new or revised criteria, almost all of the carcinogenic chemicals are proposed to be regulated at a MUCH less protective level than the EPA recommends. Most are at least twice as high as they should be and we have done a comparison of Alabama's criteria for these same chemicals and we are about three to five times higher (less protective) for all but four carcinogens.
The proposed criteria for non-carcinogens is somewhat better (than horrible) but still unacceptable.

Some of the most deadly and/or damaging chemicals such as dioxin and mercury are being completely ignored by DEP.

As we learn the full, sad extent of how radical DEP and the Governor's office has gotten, we will share more information with you. I want to be careful to have a full and clear understanding myself before I give more details. One thing that is clear right now is that DEP/Gov Scott is reaching for the bottom of the barrel. We see that our drinking water and fish supplies are in grave danger. The pulp and paper, and phosphate industries, as well as the coal-fired power plants are all thrilled at this radical weakening of Florida's water quality standards. We will need everyone's help to stop this from happening so please watch for my regular updates and remember you can always get more information from the website: floridacleanwaternetwork.org"
LDouglas
8:55PM FEB 8TH 2013
Just wanted to repeat this for those who may not make it to the end of the e-mail:

"As we learn the full, sad extent of how radical DEP and the Governor's office has gotten, we will share more information with you. I want to be careful to have a full and clear understanding myself before I give more details. One thing that is clear right now is that DEP/Gov Scott is reaching for the bottom of the barrel. We see that our drinking water and fish supplies are in grave danger. The pulp and paper, and phosphate industries, as well as the coal-fired power plants are all thrilled at this radical weakening of Florida's water quality standards. We will need everyone's help to stop this from happening so please watch for my regular updates and remember you can always get more information from the website: floridacleanwaternetwork.org"
LDouglas
8:29AM FEB 8TH 2013
"In the next 10 to 20 years, the topic that will keep this Capitol alit is going to be water."

That's true. (As Texas just found out.) Quality and quantity. And while the coast could come up with more water if they invest in expensive desalination plants, they'd still have the problem of where to put and treat it after we use it.

Otherwise, I am so glad to read Mr. Albritton has his eye on water. Because IMO, nothing says failure of leadership like ignoring something as vital to our economy and quality of life until the well runs dry- and we turn to relying on our effluent to meet our present water needs.

And the rest is so polluted we had to sue the EPA to get something done. And simply because past leadership put excess profits over water quality- and "increased tax base" over quantity or any worry about run-off or the consequences downstream.
And instead of being the fiscal conservatives they tout themselves to be and making polluters pass the cost of not polluting our water, they instead chose to allow them to pollute and pass the cost of cleaning it up to taxpayers.

Oh, and I'm also so glad he has his eye on storm water run-off though if you keep up with the news on the Indian River Lagoon, that may be a day late and a dollar short.

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