Environmentalists triumph on water privatization bill
"Kumbaya," said Rep. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, after drastic changes to a controversial "reclaimed water" bill won support from both environmentalists and the city of Tampa.
The proposal is a top priority of Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, and aims to ensure local governments and utility companies can hold on to waste water they pay to treat.
One section of HB 639 riled environmentalists because it would have shifted control of reclaimed water away from the state's water management districts. The fear was local governments and utility companies would be tempted to sell the water to the highest bidder rather than distribute it for the good of the people in the state.
Former Governor Bob Graham also vocally opposed the bill, fearing "unintended consequences."
Keyna Corey, of Associated Industries of Florida, said she had largely stayed quiet on the issue because she had clients on both sides.
"The (bill) was causing some of our members heartburn because they thought it was a major change in policy that isn't needed at that time," she said.
Rep. Dana Young, R-Tampa, the bill's sponsor, said she's spent a tremendous amount of time negotiating on the bill's contents, and she's proud of the result.
"We're creating water policy that will affect every person in the state for years to come," she said.
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