Governor urged to veto Lake O water supply bill by 4 environmental nonprofits
Four South Florida environmental nonprofits sent Gov. Ron DeSantis a letter Wednesday urging him to veto a controversial Lake Okeechobee water supply bill.
Opponents say SB 2508 contains an unnecessary requirement that the governor and Legislature must approve water management district decisions about water allocation; plus, the bill yields too much control to entities planning to destroy wetlands. Supporters say the bill provides a necessary check and balance.
The governor can sign or veto the bill, but if he does nothing, it becomes law July 1.
The letter was signed by the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, the Friends of the Everglades and the Calusa Waterkeeper. The letter outlines three "harmful" elements of the bill:
Language that unnecessarily requires legislative ratification of new water rules designed to address water allocation during the dry season, both complicating and delaying rulemaking and moving decision-making away from those who live and work in the areas (and ecosystems) most harmed by the water shortages.
Allows public entities, including utilities, to pay to expedite their wetland permits, expanding and accelerating the destruction of wetlands and exacerbating impacts to water quality.
Changes the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Rural and Family Lands program from "approving" conservation easements, which keep special agricultural lands in production and on the tax rolls, to "also allow" the agency to purchase these lands, duplicating and potentially competing with the underfunded Department of Environmental Protection's Florida Forever land acquisition program.