Rep. Aubuchon advances legislation to combat beach closures
TALLAHASSEE – Good government legislation that would require the Department of Environmental Protection to determine whether sewage spills lead to beach closings was approved by the Florida House of Representatives on Monday. The vote was unanimous.
House Bill (HB) 707, brought forward by Sanibel Mayor Mick Denham and sponsored in the House by Rep. Gary Aubuchon, R-Cape Coral, requires the DEP to investigate wastewater treatment facilities within a one-mile radius of any beach affected by a health advisory issued by the Department of Health that prohibits swimming. Upon completion of its investigation, DEP is required to notify the relevant local government whether a wastewater treatment facility experienced an incident which may have contributed to the contamination and the resulting health advisory.
“Today, when your local beach is closed because of contaminated waters, the state’s involvement essentially begins and ends with posting a sign that says ‘no swimming,'” said Aubuchon in a prepared statement. “In Southwest Florida, our tourism economy is dependent on keeping our beaches clean and open. It seemed to me that it would make much more sense for responsible state agencies to dig deeper and not just close the beach, but find out who is responsible for the beach being closed. This bill basically helps us address a problem by investigating the root of the problem.”
HB 707 now goes before the Florida Senate for consideration. If approved by the Senate and signed by Gov. Crist, HB 707 would become effective July 1, 2009.
Source: Office of Rep. Gary Aubuchon