Proposed bill would increase fines for sewage spills

Sewage Spills

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - A local lawmaker is looking to crack down on sewage spills. He’s proposing more punitive measures for municipalities that release waste into waterways where they’ll be fined by the gallon.

This proposed bill has been filed by State Senator Joe Gruters and would be brought up in the upcoming legislative session.

“He’s holding them accountable, he’s coming up with new ideas,” said Michael Holderness, who has been working to protect the environment for years.

“We have to put that fire out, when you catch million gallons of untreated sewage dumped into our bay and ground water releasing that’s a serious problem,” he said.

Meanwhile, Gruters filed this proposal this week that would lead to big fines on sewage spills. It would require municipalities to let residents know about a sewage spill in a period of 24 hours. Also, they would have to pay $1 for every gallon spilled or pay two dollars each gallon to upgrade the problem.

“This is to make sure that poo is out of the water. It’s disgusting to think about that our local governments are putting a billion gallons of raw sewage directly into our waterways,” said Gruters.

According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, there’s been at least 300 cases of sewage spills reported in both Sarasota and Manatee counties since 2017. Some of the data that’s been collected is from the State Watch Office, as well as from regulated and non-regulated entities.

“This is meant not only from the accountability standpoint but the whole people are responsible we can’t treat sewage as a normal way to do witness,” he said.

They hope this bill can reduce the problem.

“The fines and the penalties that are assessed that those penalties are not only assessed but collected and punitive this is meant to solve a problem,” said Gruters.

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