Tampa Bay Times: Florida Senate reverses plan to give sugar industry water advantage

February 19, 2022
By: Mary Ellen Klas
Feb 17th, 2022

TALLAHASSEE — After swarming legislators with nearly 40,000 petitions, more than 1,200 phone calls over the last two weeks and a veto threat from the governor, clean water advocates declared victory early Thursday over a bipartisan bill by Senate leaders to give the sugar industry an advantage in access to water flowing from Lake Okeechobee.

“There were rumors going around Tallahassee last night the cavalry was coming bigger than ever, and it forced their hand,” said Daniel Andrews of Captains For Clean Water at a rally Thursday morning outside the Capitol. “And what we saw was a late-filed amendment last night that took the worst of the worst out of this legislation.”

The amendment to SB 2508, approved 37-2 by the Senate on Thursday, would remove provisions in the bill that advocates say would have led to toxic discharges, more red tide blooms and dead fish on beaches.

Despite the amendment, critics said they continue to have serious questions about the pieces of the measure that restrict the flexibility of water managers as it relates to various projects, and they hope those provisions will be removed during budget discussions with the House.