TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, the Tampa Bay Times published a story regarding a law (HB 1263) on septic tank regulation passed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority of the Florida Legislature. In the story, instead of including key information on the Governor’s actions on septic tanks, the Times completely disregarded these initiatives. We take this opportunity to provide the facts.
In 2017, Governor Scott announced the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Florida Water Management Districts identified 40 springs projects that received $50 million as part of the 2017-18 Fighting for Florida’s Future budget. The $50 million in Legacy Florida funding for springs restoration projects was included in Governor Scott’s recommended budget and approved by the Legislature during the 2017 legislative session.
The 40 statewide projects included:
- Southwest Florida Water Management District: Kings Bay (Citrus County) sewer extension and reuse project – This project will improve water quality in Kings Bay by supporting the construction of a sewer main extension to remove septic systems and route 2 million gallons per day of reclaimed water out of the springshed.
- Northwest Florida Water Management District: Wakulla Springs(Wakulla County) septic connection projects – These projects will improve water quality in Wakulla springs by connecting more than 370 residences currently on septic tanks to an existing central sewer service.
- St Johns River Water Management District: Silver Springs (Marion County) wetland treatment and recharge project – This project will increase the flow of Silver Springs by receiving and treating excess reclaimed water and stormwater, providing 3 to 5 million gallons per day of recharge.
- Suwannee River Water Management District: White and Blue Sink springs (Suwannee County) wastewater improvement project – This project will improve water quality for two springs along the Suwannee River by providing advanced wastewater treatment and eliminating 32 commercial septic tanks.
Additionally, Governor Scott recommended millions of dollars through innovative initiatives to help Florida families convert their homes from septic to sewer in both his 2017-18 Fighting for Florida’s Future budget and 2018-19 Securing Florida’s Future budget. Unfortunately, these recommendations were not picked up by the Florida Legislature and written into the state budget in either year.
In the Governor’s 2017-18 recommended budget, he proposed funding for the Indian River Lagoon and Caloosahatchee Cleanup Initiative which marked the first time the State of Florida proposed significant funds to offset homeowner costs associated with septic to sewer conversions. The proposed initiative included $40 million in new funding for a 50/50 state matching grant program with local communities affected by algal blooms the region experienced in 2016. This voluntary program would have provided funding to encourage residents to move from septic tanks to sewer systems in order to curb pollution that is currently entering these water bodies.
In the Governor’s 2018-19 recommended budget, he once again proposed millions for a new Water Infrastructure Investment Program that would, in part, have been aimed at offsetting homeowner costs for septic to sewer conversions and be aimed at key areas such as the Indian River Lagoon and Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Estuaries.