SARASOTA (WWSB) - Legislation approved by a Florida House panel Tuesday would require customers to be notified by US mail each time raw or partially treated sewage is released or leaks into waterways.
The written notification includes the date and size of the spill, the location of the discharge and the names and phone numbers of all elected officials who have authority over the facility responsible for the discharge.
In addition, the wastewater treatment facilities that unlawfully discharge raw sewage would be fined one dollar gallon per gallon and be required to spend two dollars per gallon to repair the faulty wastewater system.
Bill sponsor Randy Fine is hopeful that his legislation will get local governments to better prioritize what taxpayer dollars are spent on. He says many local elected officials are unwilling to deal with water quality issues, since fines for non-compliance are small and dealing with waste water issues is not a feel-good topic.
“For too long, we have had a problem where parks are more fun to talk about than replacing pipes," Fine said. "So, our municipal governments have put off and put off and put off this problem. It has to be addressed. Water is the most important thing that affects the community.”
Supporters of Fine’s bill say the real goal of the legislation is to stop additional pollution from flowing into Florida waterways. They say the nutrients from untreated wastewater end up creating environmental issues such as last year’s blue-green algae and red tide outbreaks which happened across the state.