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Guest Commentary: Judah column completely inaccurate

By Staff | Mar 9, 2016

A recent column by Ray Judah entitled “Taxpayers continue to pick up the clean-up tab” is littered with factual inaccuracies and completely misrepresents portions of the comprehensive water bill signed into law by Governor Scott.

For starters, contrary to what Mr. Judah argues, the bill does not “undermine water resource protection.”

The bill actually mandates that best management practices (BMPs) or other measures be reviewed and revised if they are leading to water quality problems.

Additionally, the bill does not adversely impact water conservation, which is already prioritized under Florida law.

On Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs), Mr. Judah is wrong again.

BMAPs are already the exclusive means of state implementation of the Clean Water Act and the water bill strengthens – not weakens – the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s ability to implement and enforce state water quality standards through the Total Maximum Daily Loads program.

Finally, despite Judah’s claims, HB 7065 in 2013 did not “displace” the polluters pay Constitutional Amendment.

The actual implementation of the Constitutional Amendment can be found in Ch. 373.4592 (6)(h) FS, which is still the law of the land today. The statute provides, among other things, that “the assessment and use of the Everglades agricultural privilege tax is a matter of concern to all areas of Florida.”

Chairman Matt Caldwell has been a strong champion for Florida’s agribusinesses industry, which is Florida’s second largest industry and generates more than $100 billion in economic activity annually.

It’s fine to fight the good representative on the facts, but to call his behavior “reprehensible” does a complete disservice to the work he has done on behalf of all Floridians.

Working with Mr. Judah’s friends from the environmental community including the Everglades Foundation, Audubon Florida, and the Nature Conservancy, Representative Caldwell was integral in reaching meaningful compromise on provisions of the water bill that strengthen protections for Florida’s springs and also increase oversight of the water quality in Florida’s rivers, lakes, and streams.

Perhaps Mr. Judah’s time would be better spent reading the new law instead of attacking someone that is part of the solution in Tallahassee and not part of the problem.

-Brewster Bevis is the chairman of the Florida H2O Coalition, a coalition of stakeholders engaged in significant state and federal water issues and advocating for science-based recommendations. He resides in Tallahassee.