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Environmentalists want better water bill

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Almost everyone agrees that Florida was in desperate need of a new water policy, but even though a bill moved forward in the state legislature this week, environmentalists said there's still a number of problems.


"They're moving this through the House like a carrot through wet ground and there's going to be public outcry," Earth Justice Attorney David Guest said.
 
The bill focuses on polluted springs and freshwater runoff. 
 
House State Affairs Committee Chairman Matt Caldwell said lawmakers need to get the proposal moving.
 
"Well, our goal in the House is to get this moving through and into the early weeks of session and give our Senate partners time to digest it and give them time to hopefully join us with the good ideas we're putting out," Caldwell said.
 
But the speed of the bill may be the problem. Guest said pollution regulation issues are still out there.
 
"What we have is a substitution of a planning process where the polluting industries decide what they're willing to do, and even after that it's voluntary," Guest said.
 
Democrats are calling for a slowdown so they can really fix springs and rivers throughout the state.
 
"This is the moment in Florida to put all of our energy into a bill that can really improve quality of life of Floridians, the industries that can really require water, and so we need to take our time," said Rep. Mark Pafford, the House Democratic leader.
 
The bill relies largely on the Department of Environmental Protection regulations that environmentalists said may be too loose.
 
Environmentalists said they are hopeful that the Senate produces a stronger bill.