Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Springs bill advances in Senate, though stripped of funding

A bill to help restore Florida's ailing springs passed its last committee stop in the Senate, but wound up stripped of millions in projected funding.

The bill, SB 1576, won approval from the Senate Appropriations Committee after it was amended to take out a funding source that would have supplied an estimated $380 million in documentary stamp tax money for cleaning up the pollution tainting the state's iconic springs. The amended bill also allows the state to waive the deadlines for cleanup that were in the original.

Environmental advocates did not object to the changes, but the loss of guaranteed funding upset representatives from the Florida League of Cities and Florida Association of Counties. They said cash-strapped local governments should not be forced to pay the full price for cleaning up pollution.

When they began working on a springs bill last summer, said Stephen James of the Florida Association of Counties, the intent was to secure funding, prioritize which springs needed help the most, and make sure cities and counties got the help they needed to fix such pollution problems as leaky septic tanks.

"Up until yesterday that's what this bill did," James told the committee, pointing to the $380 million originally included in the language. "But today we're looking at — what, $10 million?"

The counties with springs tend to be "counties that are struggling, struggling badly," he said. "They are low income, low tax values, high unemployment.""

One of the bill's sponsors, Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, told the committee that what they had before them was "a placeholder" that "gets us started so we can begin negotiations with the House." He assured them that in the end, they would get "a blueprint for solving our water crisis."

While the Senate bill has moved steadily, the House version has not been heard in a single committee. House Speaker Will Weatherford has said he does not believe the issue can be solved this year, and anyway incoming Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, wants to tackle water policy issues next year as his signature issue.

Florida has more than 1,000 freshwater springs, hailed as the greatest concentration of springs in the world. But many suffer from nitrate pollution that fuels the growth of toxic algae blooms caused by fertilizer and septic tank waste in storm runoff.

Compounding the pollution is a decline in flow that in some cases resulted in them sputtering out completely or reversing flow.

Craig Pittman can be reached at craig@tampabay.com or follow him on Twitter at @craigtimes.

Springs bill advances in Senate, though stripped of funding 04/22/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 22, 2014 8:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trump sprinkles political attacks into Scout Jamboree speech

    GLEN JEAN, W.Va. — Ahead of President Donald Trump's appearance Monday at the National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, the troops were offered some advice on the gathering's official blog: Fully hydrate. Be "courteous" and "kind." And avoid the kind of divisive chants heard during the 2016 campaign such as "build …

    President Donald Trump addresses the Boy Scouts of America's 2017 National Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve in Glen Jean, W.Va., July 24, 2017. [New York Times]
  2. Trump, seething about attorney general, speculates about firing Sessions, sources say

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has spoken with advisers about firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as he continues to rage against Sessions' decision to recuse himself from all matters related to the Russia investigation.

  3. John McCain to return to Senate for health care vote

    WASHINGTON — The Senate plans to vote Tuesday to try to advance a sweeping rewrite of the nation's health-care laws with the last-minute arrival of Sen. John McCain — but tough talk from President Donald Trump won no new public support from skeptical GOP senators for the flagging effort that all but …

  4. Last orca calf born in captivity at a SeaWorld park dies

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — The last killer whale born in captivity under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program died Monday at the company's San Antonio, Texas, park, SeaWorld said.

    Thet orca Takara helps guide her newborn, Kyara, to the water's surface at SeaWorld San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas, in April. Kyara was the final killer whale born under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program. The Orlando-based company says 3-month-old Kyara died Monday. [Chris Gotshall/SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment via AP]
  5. Blake Snell steps up, but Rays lose to Orioles anyway (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Blake Snell stepped up when he had to Monday and delivered an impressive career-high seven-plus innings for the Rays. That it wasn't enough in what ended up a 5-0 loss to the Orioles that was their season-high fifth straight is symptomatic of the mess they are in right now.

    Tim Beckham stands hands on hips after being doubled off first.