Posted by: reefrescue | February 15, 2011

Florida Legislature moves to continue ocean sewage dumping

The Florida Legislature moves to continue ocean sewage dumping. Bill introduced to derail ocean outfall legislation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

History: In a ceremony held at the 2008 International Coral Reef Symposium, Ft. Lauderdale, then Florida Governor Charlie Crist signed into law legislation ending the practice of dumping poorly treated sewage from ocean outfall pipes into Florida’s coastal waters. The signing was hailed by the hundreds of coral reef scientists gathered from across the globe who attended the international conference.

Now: Three years later Florida’s legislature, led by newly elected Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla of Miami introduced bill SB 796 designed to delay the implementation of the 2008 legislation and allow the continued dumping of 396 million gallons a day of sewage into Florida waters until 2030.

SB 796 doesn’t deny the sewage is killing the costal environment, in fact the bill states:

“The Legislature also finds that discharge of domestic wastewater through ocean outfalls compromises the coastal environment, quality of life, and local economies that depend on those resources. The Legislature declares that more stringent treatment and management requirements for such domestic wastewater and the subsequent, timely elimination of ocean outfalls as a primary means of domestic wastewater discharge are in the public interest.”

What the pro-sewage lobby, led by Miami-Dade County, is saying is that it just costs too much to protect Florida’s coral reefs and coastal tourism economy. This is the same county that can afford to build a new half billion dollar sports stadium for the Florida Marlins baseball team (as long as the team agrees to change their name to the “Miami Marlins”).

Broward and Miami-Dade Counties should realize that rebuilding their antiquated and deteriorated wastewater infrastructure creates jobs.

The prognosis for the world’s coral reefs is bleak. In a recently published study the Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and The University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute found “As CO2 levels climb to 450-500 parts per million – as they are now expected to do by 2050 – how well we manage local impacts on reefs like fishing and runoff will become absolutely critical as to whether they survive as coral reefs, or are overtaken by algae that compete with corals for space on reefs.”

“However local reef management efforts to maintain high grazing fish populations and prevent runoff of silt, fertilizers and sewage from the land will play a critical role in maintaining coral resilience while CO2 concentrations are stabilized”, they add.

If bill SB796 becomes law and sewage continues to flow onto Florida’s coral reefs until 2030 it appears likely our coastal ecosystem will become unrecognizable.

Links:

Florida State Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla: http://www.flsenate.gov/senators/s36

 SB 796: http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2011/0796/BillText/Filed/PDF

Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and The University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute Study: http://www.uq.edu.au/news/?article=22677

Florida Tribune, Legislation would relax deadlines for reducing pollution in Atlantic Ocean: http://fltrib.com/legislation-would-relax-deadlines-reducing-pollution-atlantic-ocean

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