Water Battle Brewing in Florida

Water is boring. Unless your lawn looks like a parched brownfield in the Libyan boonies.

But water is about to become your problem if you live in Florida. You are about to pay through the nose for it. And you can blame it on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

At a time when over a million Floridians are out of work and many are struggling to keep a roof over their heads, the EPA is singling out Florida with new mandates that will increase the cost of living and doing business in Florida.

Going by the mouthful moniker of Numeric Nutrient Criteria, these are 3 words that should strike fear into your heart. Why? EarthJustice, a radical environmental law group, sued the Environmental Protection Agency over Florida’s “impaired water”, prompting EPA to impose a commandment to Florida to adopt outrageously restrictive water quality standards for fresh water. These standards are higher than any other state in America.

Environmental issues are important to Floridians. We must be good stewards of our land and water because our natural resources draw not only tourists but businesses that want to grow or locate here. But these federally imposed NNC standards are scientifically and technically flawed, and very costly.

The EPA bureaucracy is imposing grossly unreasonable water quality standards, for which Florida taxpayers and businesses will pay exorbitant sums estimated at $50 billion. But as former Attorney General Bill McCollum exclaimed, “The federal government has a role to oversee, not to dictate.” And Bill is right. The feds should not unilaterally dictate what laws we should pass in our state, much less impose standards that no other state must obey.

Florida TaxWatch’s Dominic Calabro says, “These rules are unfair because they will require Florida to clean rivers that were polluted by other states, without any obligation for those states to contribute their proper and fair share.”

You won’t hear an admission from most of the fringe enviro groups who are delighted that you and I must pay preposterous sums of money, but these new rules lack sound science, not to mention sound economics. Businesses don’t oppose water standards; what we oppose is using incorrect standards and bad science.

Here in Palm Beach County, these regulations could soon raise your water bill. “An estimated $275,000,000 upgrade to the county waste water facility may be required to meet these new rules”, says the county’s Water Utilities Department. This could result in a $600 to $900 increase in your local water bill yearly, in addition to an annual increased cost to you and each Florida household of another $1,700. The capital costs for compliance by local governments alone will be $75 billion, for massive retrofits to public utilities and drainage facilities. Several Florida industries (citrus, dairy, agriculture, fertilizer and paper) will pay $7 billion more for capital costs, and another $2 billion annually for ongoing costs.

Say bye-bye to many businesses that will move to other states and take jobs with them, or that will refuse to come to Florida to start with. And the major cost increases to Florida households will provide incentives to move out of Florida, or to never come in the first place. The job losses and decline in growth in our state will drive a stake into the heart of Florida’s economic recovery.

But that’s OK with the wacko fringe of the no-growth environmentalists, who would rather see Florida return to a tropical jungle anyway.

John R. Smith GET AUTHOR RSS FEED

John R. Smith is chairman of BIZPAC, the Business Political Action Committee of Palm Beach County, and owner of a financial services company. He is a frequent columnist for BizPac Review.
John R. Smith

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