The proposed legislation would allow the state to do inspections on the front end in an attempt to minimize and avoid future problems before they happen. The new legislation will also outline the inspection, maintenance, and replacement plans for waste water systems.
Current law only allows officials to intervene once a spill occurs.
The new measure would also regulate biosolids, only allowing them to be applied to specific land that is high and dry enough to prevent them from seeping into waterways.
The Blue-Green Algae Task Force received input from a variety of stakeholders and identified runoff from agricultural lands, onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems, sanitary sewer overflows, and stormwater runoff as some of the significant sources of nutrient pollution and made recommendations to improve the state’s policies and programs to achieve targeted nutrient reductions and protect public health.
“Addressing nutrient impacts will require actions by all stakeholders in Florida and significant water quality changes can only occur when all stakeholders work together,” said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. “This legislation is the foundation for implementing necessary actions by the department, local governments and our regulated community based on the Task Force’s recommendations.”
DeSantis' legislation would also transfer authority to oversee septic tank inspections from the Department of Health to the Department of Environmental Protection.
A breakdown for the proposed legislation is provided below.
Wastewater Infrastructure and Sanitary Sewer Overflows
- Requires utilities to develop inspection, maintenance and replacement plans for their wastewater systems, rather than allowing these systems to age and fall into despair.
- Gives DEP the authority to intervene by inspecting these systems and requiring appropriate proactive measures to upkeep wastewater facilities to better avoid future discharges.
- Ratifies recent rules adopted by DEP to ensure biosolids are only applied to land that is high enough and dry enough to prevent interaction with groundwater.
- Transfers the authority of septic tank inspection from the Department of Health (DOH) to DEP to ensure environmental harm by septic systems is accounted for.
- Requires plans for the improvement of impaired water bodies, known as Basin Management Action Plans, to include septic remediation plans
- Requires DEP to coordinate with top academic institutions to annually send the most updated research to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) to ensure agricultural best management practices are grounded in the most up-to-date science.
- Requires onsite verification of best management practices for each enrolled producer at least every two years.
- Requires DACS to provide DEP and water management districts the types and amounts of nutrients BMP enrollees are tracking on agricultural products.
- Directs DEP to adopt rules to ensure that stormwater systems throughout the state reflect the most up-to-date science and contemplate environmental harm.