An editorial published Sunday, January 24, 2016, by the Ocala Star Banner . Please see the entire original article here: http://www.ocala.com/article/20160124/OPINION01/160129902
Editorial: Water policy fails Floridians
If we didn’t know better, we would have thought the Florida Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott had achieved a major milestone for our state this week with the governor’s signing of Florida’s new water policy on Thursday. Because the celebration that took place in Tallahassee suggested this was a game-changer, the long-awaited “policy” that Florida desperately needs to clean up and preserve its water supply.
But Senate Bill 552 falls far short of any semblance of serious water policy. It is so flawed that former Gov. Bob Graham, in a letter to Scott, said the water bill “represents a purposeful effort to weaken protection and management of Florida’s water resources.”
Four years in the making, it took two legislative sessions to pass this policy failure. Graham is right — the bill does nothing to curb water consumption and little to slow the flow of pollutants into our rivers, lakes and springs.
Maybe worse, it is a outright gift to big business, especially agriculture. Not only does it loosen pollution enforcement standards, it actually allows Big Ag to monitor itself. The bill relies on so-called “best management practices” that set goals for large water users — but they have decades to meet the goals, there are no penalties or fines written into the law and no provisions are in place to add inspectors to make sure farmers and industry are adhering to the best practices.
To add insult to injury, our lawmakers included a “cost sharing” program that actually requires water management districts to subsidize Big Ag’s pollution control efforts. Yes, the taxpayers of Florida will pay so Big Ag can clean up the mess it created.