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Florida legislators approve spending millions on projects to aid the state's springs

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TALLAHASSEE, Florida — Florida will spend millions of dollars to upgrade sewer systems and replace septic tanks for homeowners in an effort to bolster the health of the state's springs.

A legislative budget panel on Wednesday approved steering $25 million in state money for the projects. The state money is being matched with more than $40 million coming from the state's water management districts and from local governments.

A total of 27 projects were on the list, including several designed to improve water quality in the springs that feed into the Suwannee River. There is also a $10 million project designed to connect 850 homes near Silver Springs in Ocala to a central sewer system in order to remove septic tanks. Other projects are located in Volusia County and around the Wekiva River in central Florida.

One of the most expensive projects calls for upgrading a wastewater treatment plant in Citrus County. Four projects are designed to help the water quality near Wakulla Springs in north Florida by switching homes from septic tanks to central sewer.

This is the second year that the state has spent money aimed at helping Florida's troubled springs. Gov. Rick Scott has also vowed if re-elected to push for $50 million a year for additional springs restoration projects.

State legislators passed a far-reaching springs restoration law in 2010 that required inspections of septic tanks every five years. But two years later Scott signed a bill into law that repealed the requirement.

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