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Charlie Dean

Florida Senate passes water protection bill; moves to House

The Florida Senate on Wednesday unanimously passed a massive bill intended to protect and restore Florida's springs, waterways and groundwater, despite objections from environmentalists who say the bill was weakened by the influence of industry and agriculture interests.

Backers of the measure (SB 552) defeated on voice votes several floor amendments offered mostly by Democrats, intended to fix what environmental groups have called the bill's flaws.

Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, said he expects the House to pass a companion bill, House Bill 7005, to send the legislation to Gov. Rick for his signature by Friday.

Critics said despite the bill's...