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Thursday, Jul 31, 2014
Editorials

Don’t delay springs protections

Published:

It is encouraging that Gov. Rick Scott and state lawmakers say they want to clean up Florida’s precious water bodies, particularly its springs.

Scott is seeking $55 million to clean up springs, and the state Senate may consider a strategy for cleaning up water bodies.

All this is appropriate, but the reason such expenditures are necessary is displayed by a measure being proposed by Rep. Greg Evers of Pensacola.

The measure would delay the ban on disposal of septic tank sludge on open land scheduled to go into effect in 2016.

The material pumped from septic tanks is scarcely treated and can contain hazardous material. Runoff from such sludge-disposal sites commonly pollute surface waters, springs and groundwater.

Evers’ bill would delay the ban until 2020, though it was originally adopted in 2010.

The result will surely be more harm to springs and other waters.

Consider: When the state prevented the disposal of wastewater sludge around Lake Okeechobee, the water body experienced a 25 percent reduction in nutrients.

Similarly, a provision in a springs-protection bill is meeting resistance because it would require septic tanks to be upgraded or hooked to sewers near springs with high nitrogen levels.

Although the costs to local governments are a concern, simply ignoring the water-pollution threat is no solution.

This is the sort of short-sighted thinking that has compromised the state’s drinking water sources and created the need to spend millions on cleanup efforts.

Politicians love to rail against regulations, but the reality is sensible regulations prevent costly problems and save tax dollars.

It is hardly conservative government to recklessly create a mess and leave the bill for others.

The same stewardship that should apply to government finances should also apply to natural resources.

And with rapid population growth returning, it is all the more important the state be vigilant.

Lawmakers should see it is better for taxpayers to prevent the ruin of water sources than to try to undo the damage once it’s done.

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