Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the legislation, often referred to as the Clean Waterways Act, on June 30. The measure incorporates several recommendations put forth by Blue-Green Algae Task Force and went into effect July 1.
The legislation, among other things, shifts the regulation of septic systems from the Department of Health to the Department of Environmental Protection. It also requires the Department of Environmental Protection to create rules to locate septic systems, which must include establishing setback distance to prevent groundwater and surface water contamination.
It also updates to stormwater regulations; establishes a real-time water quality monitoring program within the Department of Environmental Protection; and directs the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to collect data on how much fertilizer agricultural operations use.
The Greater Naples Chamber has identified water quality as one of its top public policy priorities and, as part of Southwest Florida Alliance of Chambers, advocated for the passage of the legislation during the 2020 Legislative Session.
The Southwest Florida Alliance of Chambers was formed following the 2018 blue-green algae and red tide crisis. The organization advocates at the local, state and federal levels to improve Southwest Florida’s quality of life and serves as a catalyst for positive change impacting business, environment and tourism.