The Clean Waterways Act of 2020

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By Senator Debbie Mayfield

Senator Debbie Mayfield was elected in 2016 to the Florida Senate, representing District 17, which includes southern Brevard and Indian River Counties. During the 2019 and 2020 Legislative Sessions, Senator Mayfield served as Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Agriculture, Environment and General Government; Vice Chair of the Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee; and as a member of the Appropriations Committee, Environment and Natural Resources Committee and the Health Policy Committee.

During the 2020 legislative session, I was honored to sponsor Senate Bill 712: The Clean Waterways Act. This comprehensive legislation provides a framework for improvements and restoration of Florida’s water bodies that are adversely affected by blue-green algae blooms.

The Clean Waterways Act addresses significant sources of nutrient pollution that are contributing to these blooms including onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems (septic tanks), Waste Water Treatment facility overflows and discharges, and agricultural and stormwater runoff. Furthermore, SB 712 provides meaningful deterrents to polluters by doubling fines for wastewater violations.

Some of SB 712’s primary components include:

  • Regulation of septic tanks as a source of nutrients and transfer of oversight from the Florida Department of Health to Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
  • Contingency plans for power outages to minimize discharges of untreated wastewater for all sewage disposal facilities.
  • Provision of financial records from all sanitary sewage disposal facilities so that DEP can ensure funds are being allocated to infrastructure upgrades, repairs, and maintenance that prevent systems from falling into states of disrepair.
  • Detailed documentation of fertilizer use by agricultural operations to ensure compliance with Best Management Practices and aid in evaluation of their effectiveness.
  • Updated stormwater rules and design criteria to improve the performance of stormwater systems statewide to specifically address nutrients.

While there is still work to be done, this framework is the roadmap to addressing water quality issues well into the future. As I continue my work as your State Senator, I am committed to protecting our waterways so that future generations may enjoy them as we have.