Environmental Regulation (Watch)

Environmental Regulation (Watch)

CS/CS/CS/SB 1308 (Perry) and CS/CS/HB 1149 (Payne) amend current state laws that address water and wastewater permits, local government recycling and solid waste responsibilities, and projects exempt from state environmental permit requirements.  

Recycling & Solid Waste: Residential recycling containers often contain amounts of solid waste or other materials that are non-recyclable. In some cases, these materials can “contaminate” the remaining recyclables in the container or the truckload. As originally filed, the bills stated that a recyclable materials collector or facility is not required to collect or process recyclable materials that contain 15 percent of contaminated material by weight or volume. The League opposed this language. Both bills were subsequently amended to address the League’s concerns.  The amended bills now specify that contracts between local governments and vendors for the collection, transport and processing of residential recycling materials must include terms and conditions to define and reduce levels of contamination, but the bills do not dictate specific terms, numbers or requirements. Each contract is required to define contaminated recyclable material in a manner that is appropriate for the local community, based on available markets and other relevant factors. Contracts must include provisions for identifying and documenting contamination, as well as the respective obligations of the parties regarding education and enforcement. A recyclable materials collector or facility would not be required to collect, transport or process “contaminated recyclable material,” as defined in the appropriate contract. The new requirements would apply to new contracts and contracts extended after July 1, 2018.  

Water: The reuse of reclaimed water can reduce or eliminate harmful impacts to ground or surface water that would otherwise occur through permitted withdrawals from these sources. The bills recognize the benefit of these impact offsets and provide additional incentives for reclaimed water use by directing the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to develop a uniform rule for incorporating offsets and credits into water use permits. The bills recognize that reuse of reclaimed water through aquifer recharge is a critical component of meeting the state’s existing and future water supply needs while sustaining natural systems, and direct DEP and the water management districts to streamline and coordinate their respective permit reviews for aquifer recharge projects. The League supports this section of the bills. 

State Permit Exemptions: Current state law provides exemptions from state environmental permitting requirements for various projects. The bills clarify that local governments may not require a person to provide additional verification from the Department of Environmental Protection of entitlement to such an exemption. In addition, the bills modify an existing state permit exemption for the replacement and repair of existing docks and piers, by specifying the replacement or repair may be in “approximately the same location and no larger in size," and that no additional aquatic resources may be adversely impacted. The League has no position on this section of the bills. 

CS/CS/SB 1308 was amended to incorporate the substance of CS/SB 244 (Brandes) and CS/CS/HB 837 (Edwards-Walpole), which create a voluntary incentive program for wastewater utilities and are supported by the League.  CS/CS/HB 1149 was amended to include these provisions, as well. (O’Hara)