May 02 2008

Florida Chapters Go Big in the 2008 Legislative Session

by Surfrider Foundation

When it rains, it pours! This 2008 Florida legislative session was a heavy one for the 10 chapter and 1 planning committee in Florida. This year it seemed the environment finally become a HOT TOPIC that everyone want to supportive of! The Florida chapter network was able achieve four out of the five proposed pieces of legislation they were either leading or supporting. These including the following efforts:

Clean Oceans Act - After a difficult 3 year campaign, the law will now require owners and operators of day-cruise gambling vessels to implement sewage and other wastewater pump-out systems at ports, or adopt closed-loop system technology. (Sponsor: Sen. Haridolopos/Rep. Mayfield)

South Florida Outfall Closures - The bill will prohibit construction of new ocean outfalls, expansion of ocean outfalls for specified purposes, and initiate specific requirements for domestic wastewater treatment & management for certain facilities & activities relating to ocean outfalls. The six South Florida outfalls, dumping over 300 million gallons of wastewater into the sea and squandering 100 billion gallons of freshwater every year, are now mandated to wastewater reuse by 2025. (Sponsors: Sen. Saunders/ Rep. Mayfield & Natural Resource Council)

Inlet Management - The bill redirects the state’s beach management efforts to truly address beach erosion caused by Florida’s inlets since about 80% of the problem starts here. It includes recommendations to mitigate the erosive impacts of the inlet, cost estimates necessary to take corrective measures, and recommendations regarding cost sharing among the beneficiaries of such inlet. (Sponsors: Sen. Jones / Rep. Mayfield)

Beach Water Quality Testing Funding - In a year of super heavy budget cuts across the board, efforts to minimize impacts to the water testing funding was only cut in half versus entirely, as proposed by the House. On a positive note, it has opened a new relationship with the Dept of Health and the opportunity to help with testing in areas that will be cut.

Beach Access Signage - Unfortunately this language was a little late out of the gate. The removal of illegal signage along the beachfront and the creation of a specific Part V within Chapter 161, just on beach access, will be pushed again next year. This should not be confused with the perpendicular definition language added last year.

The statewide member effort included attending Oceans Day, Action Alerts, making personal calls the sponsors or their local legislator, and holding media events.

Florida chapters would especially like to thank the bill sponsors and cosponsors, long time Clean Oceans supporter Rep. Tony Sasso, our hardworking-diehard Tallahassee Coordinator Doug Bell and TJ Marshall, FSU Professors Donna Christie & Robin Craig, and other coastal stakeholder groups that made this possible!