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Water-Related News

SCOTUS wetlands decision could spell more construction, major impact on Florida

TAMPA — Nearly a third of Florida — millions of acres — is designated as wetlands, and the recent Supreme Court decision over the type of land could have a major impact in the state, potentially inviting more construction and development. The ruling weakened environmental protections on wetlands by changing what land is and is not protected by the Environmental Protection Agency and the decades-old Clean Water Act.

“This is what drives people to Florida,” said Rocky Milburn, gesturing out to Lake Conservation Park, where he spoke with 8 On Your Side. “This beautiful, beautiful place. But it’s going to disappear.”

Unless wetlands are connected to a larger body of water, they are under less protection, which has environmentalists, like Rocky Milburn of the Tampa Bay Sierra Club, frustrated.

“That’s our drinking water, from these wetlands,” Milburn said. “They hold the water and they filter down to the limestone through the aquifer. It’s very, very important.”

The Sierra Club said more than half the country’s wetlands will be affected, including many in Florida.

“How many people a day are moving to Florida?” Milburn questioned. “How many houses are they building? Just drive anywhere — North County, South County, Lakeland — and there’s wetlands all around us.”