March 29, 2018

The Honorable Rick Scott
Governor
State of Florida
400 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399

RE: HB 1149 – Environmental Regulation

Dear Governor Scott,

On behalf of Resiliency Florida, a non-profit corporation comprised of public and private sector entities committed to the sustainability of the state of Florida, we would like to express our support for HB 1149 relating to environmental regulation.

Since its inception, the organization has been committed to promoting the identification and implementation of strategies that will allow our state to adapt to ever changing economic and environmental conditions. We would like to thank you for your leadership in creating and funding a new program in the state aimed at just this very purpose and we look forward to working with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to ensure that your Florida Resilient Coastline Initiative is a success.

That said, the challenges of resiliency are not limited to our coastlines, and so we support the development of long term strategies that will help us address the needs of the entire state. The efficient utilization of our water resources is one such strategy. For years, we have tapped the surficial aquifers in Florida to the detriment of important natural systems. This was first evident in the Tampa Bay region resulting in the state’s first water wars and the development of recovery strategies to restore flows to lakes, springs and rivers. In southeast Florida, to protect the Everglades, communities are under restrictions that prohibit the additional withdrawal of water from the Biscayne Aquifer (the primary source of drinking water for Miami-Dade and Broward Counties). Lastly, through your leadership and commitment to the Central Florida Water Initiative, we are working to reverse decades of over drainage to wetlands systems in central Florida.

A common strategy that has been identified to provide for the long term water supply needs of the state is the increased use of reclaimed water. The reclaimed water, that can be captured, treated and re-introduced into our supply system, is simply too valuable to waste. All over the world wastewater it is being successfully treated and re-used for many beneficial purposes, including the restoration of natural systems.

Section 3 of HB 1149 advances this important strategy, not by granting new authority to introduce reclaimed water (treated to drinking water standards) into our aquifers, but merely by encouraging the development of this practice through the thoughtful and capable oversight of DEP and the water management districts.

At Resiliency Florida, we believe, based on detailed modeling performed by some of our member local governments, that the recharge of our aquifers with reclaimed water will be a critical step to combat the adverse impacts of increased saltwater intrusion associated with rising sea levels, which is already compromising some coastal wellfields. In the interior of the state, the same technology can help provide for our future needs while minimizing pressure on springs, wetlands and other critical natural areas.

We have read and understand the concerns of some in the environmental community and believe that these can be addressed through on-going dialogue relating to reclaimed water development and use. Instead of delaying the implementation of aquifer recharge projects, we need to support the efforts of Senator Wilton Simpson’s reclaimed water workgroup and other stakeholder groups, which are working to advance and improve these technologies.

In closing, the recharge of aquifers with reclaimed water is already occurring in Florida, and we are unaware of any scientific evidence that this practice is harming our water supply sources. That said, removing other constituents/chemicals of emerging concern from the reuse stream, as a matter of caution, is something that we can continue to work on while we perfect the implementation of this critical strategy.

Based on the foregoing, we respectfully ask that you approve HB 1149 and allow the states’ public utilities, which were the ones promoting this section of the bill, to improve and advance this practice under the watchful eye of your executive agencies and the water resource experts therein.

Respectfully,

Nancy Shaver, Mayor
City of St. Augustine
Co-chair, Resiliency Florida