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Associated Industries of Florida forming coalition on water issues while Simmons seeks consensus

By Bruce Ritchie

Associated Industries of Florida announced Thursday it is establishing a coalition to make recommendations on state and federal water laws affecting Florida.

Meanwhile, Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, said Thursday he will work with groups, including Associated Industries of Florida, that have raised concerns about Senate draft springs legislation.

"Doing nothing is not an alternative -- that's what I say to people," Simmons told The Florida Current. "If you don't like it, tell me what you would do to solve the problem."

A Jan. 10 version of the draft legislation called for sewage treatment plant upgrades in areas with polluted springs and upgrading septic tanks in areas where sewer lines cannot be extended. The bill would earmark an estimated $378 million a year for wastewater treatment improvements.

Twenty-three groups including Associated Industries of Florida raised concerns in a letter sent last week to Simmons and other senators who are backing the measure. The groups said Florida also has the regulatory tools it needs to address springs issues.

But Simmons said Thursday that current law lacks timetables and specific goals for cleaning up and protecting springs.