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Former Governor Calls On Scott To Stop Water Bill

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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) -- Former Florida Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham has added his name to the list of opponents asking Gov. Rick Scott to veto a water-policy bill that is expected to be signed Thursday.

In a letter Wednesday to Scott, Graham argued that the proposal (SB 552) fails to reverse pollution and over-pumping of aquifers for Florida's lakes, rivers, springs, estuaries and the Everglades.

"Although there are good elements in this bill, they come at too high a cost: provisions blatantly favoring special interests, tying the hands of the water management districts by further weakening current water protections, and largely ignoring the two most important requirements to protect these resources: conservation and stopping pollution at its source," Graham wrote. "Frankly stated, this bill leaves the people and businesses of Florida unprepared to meet the water challenges of the 21st century."

Graham's letter was submitted on behalf of the Florida Conservation Coalition, which represents more than 50 organizations.

Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said in an email that Scott will sign the bill Thursday afternoon in his office.

Last week, the bill was unanimously passed by the Senate and backed 110-2 by the House. The bill, in part, calls for establishing water-flow levels for springs and setting guidelines for the Central Florida Water Initiative, which is a regional water-supply planning effort that involves the state Department of Environmental Protection, the St. Johns River Water Management District, the South Florida Water Management District, the Southwest Florida Water Management District, the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and regional water utilities.

The bill also would further establish management plans for farming around Lake Okeechobee, the Caloosahatchee Estuary and inland portions of the Caloosahatchee River watershed, and the St. Lucie River and Estuary.

Graham's letter follows a similar request Friday by the Sierra Club, 1000 Friends of Florida, the Florida Springs Council and the St. Johns Riverkeeper.

(The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.)

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