A Senate environmental package geared to tighten regulations on septic tanks and nutrient pollution cleared its second committee this week, with one more left to go before heading to the Senate floor.
SB 1632 takes aim at advanced wastewater treatment and septic tanks to help develop better infrastructure and limit nutrient pollution. Changes could be coming to it soon, though.
“We will probably do an amendment at the next stop — tighten up some stuff,” said Lake Mary Republican Sen. Jason Brodeur, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee on Agriculture, Environment and General Government.
“We’re still having conversations, so for any members that are really interested in what we’re doing with this, please, let’s continue to chat. I’m happy to do it. It’s a big bill, it’s got a lot of good stuff in it, and if there’s ways that we need to tighten it that you’re looking at, I’m happy to chat (about) that and would appreciate your support.”
There was no debate or public testimony during the hearing.
The bill would currently require that, within the particular local government’s jurisdiction, a plan must exist to provide sanitary sewer services, within a 10-year planning deadline, for any development of more than 50 residential lots and more than one septic tank per acre. A septic tank is presumed to exist if a sewer does not.
SB 1632 also includes a new section of proposed Florida law that directly addresses the Indian River Lagoon.
For properties within the Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs) affecting the Indian River Lagoon, by Jan. 1, 2030, those with septic tanks would need to connect to a central sewer, if available, or an enhanced nutrient septic tank or wastewater treatment system if not. The septic tank and alternative systems would need to reduce nutrients by at least 50% compared to the status quo.
The House version of the bill advanced this week with that 50% nutrient reduction changed to a 65% nitrogen reduction in what the bill sponsor called the fixing of what was essentially a typo.
Changes would come to BMAPs as well. If passed, the legislation would require BMAPs to include five-year milestones for implementation and water quality improvement, along with requiring entities with a specific pollutant load reduction to submit a list of projects to DEP that can be initiated to meet the milestones.
DEP would have to coordinate with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, along with agriculture operation owners, to identify projects within a BMAP that reduce pollution from nonpoint agricultural sources.
For wastewater grant programs, the bill expands eligibility among waterbodies and types of projects, while removing the mandatory 50% local matching funds requirement, allowing DEP to consider a cost-share plan provided by the applicant.
The bill also amends the Florida Forever program to up the contract price for land acquisition needing Internal Improvement Trust Fund Board approval from $1 million to $5 million.
SB 1632 moves on to the Senate Committee on Fiscal Policy.