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"Reclaimed" water study bill causes heartburn for Audubon Florida

By Bruce Ritchie

Sometimes a study bill is more than just a study bill, says Eric Draper, executive director of Audubon Florida.

His group is raising concerns about SB 536, which would require state agencies to study and report on the expansion of the use of "reclaimed" water. The bill passed its first committee stop Monday before the Senate Committee on Agriculture.

Reclaimed water usually is an environmental feel-good story about taking sewage plant discharges that could pollute streams and rivers and using it instead to irrigate farms, golf courses and lawns, thereby saving groundwater.

But with cities and farms increasingly looking to lakes and rivers for future water supplies, environmentalists are concerned about water being taken and not returned to the environment because it's considered "reclaimed."