Atrocious water bill improved but still rife with negative environmental consequences

March 21, 2022

Each Legislative Session, one bill seems to rise to the forefront of the public’s mind, to the point that you only have to say the bill number, and everyone knows what you’re talking about.  Such a bill can be for the good, like SB10 from several years ago, which launched the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir into reality.  Or, the bill can be extremely damaging, such as this Session’s SB2508 that tried to quietly masquerade significant policy changes as a mere budget conforming bill.

At the end of the day, SB2508 was passed through both Chambers, albeit significantly less catastrophic than originally proposed.  It is now on its way to the Governor’s desk for his consideration. 

The Conservancy extends our heartfelt thanks to all of you for taking action to reach out to our Legislators multiple times over the past month, asking them to kill this bill.  While the bill survived, some of the most egregious aspects with regard to the Everglades were softened or removed.  This happened because you took action!

However, we cannot overlook the concerning aspects of this bill that remain, including:

  1. This bill contains significant policy changes that never should have been put into a budget conforming bill.  It is an end run around the regular legislative process and deliberately designed to prevent public comments and review.
  2. The bill includes language that unnecessarily requires Legislative ratification of new water rules designed to address water allocation during the dry season, both complicating and delaying rulemaking and moving decision making away from those who live and work in the areas (and ecosystems) most harmed by the water shortages. 
  3. This bill allows public entities, including utilities, to contribute funding to state permitting agencies to expedite processing of their environmental resource and Clean Water Act Section 404 permit applications.  This is problematic because the regulated community should not be allowed to pay an agency to fast-track permit review.

The Conservancy maintains our strong opposition to this bill. Stay tuned for updates as this legislation travels to the Governor’s desk for consideration.