Legislature Passes New Water Legislation – 1/25/2016
The Florida Springs and Aquifer Protection Act was quickly signed into law by the Governor and is set to take effect on July 1, 2016.
In response to a number of water-related challenges facing the State of Florida, the Florida Legislature passed new legislation at the start of the 2016 Legislative session in January. The bill, referred to as the Florida Springs and Aquifer Protection Act, was quickly signed into law by the Governor and is set to take effect on July 1, 2016 (CS/CS/SB 552; Chapter 2016-1, Laws of Florida). The legislation will have wide-ranging impacts on how water is used and regulated in Florida, as well as how Florida’s many water resources are restored and protected. Everyone from homeowners, agricultural users, water utilities, land development interests and local governments will experience its effects. The legislation deals with many topics, including, but not limited to:
• New measures for the protection of Florida’s larger springs;
• Updated procedures to provide or restore Minimum Flows and Levels (MFLs) for waterbodies;
• Modifications to regulations governing the withdrawal and use of groundwater;
• Requires select Consumptive Use Permits (CUPs) with pumpage of more than 100,000 gallons per day to be monitored by the permit holder;
• The promotion of pilot alternative water supply projects to augment or replace reliance on Florida’s traditional groundwater resources;
• Improving water quality by treating water on privately-owned land through “water farming”;
• Changes to watershed protection programs for Lake Okeechobee, the Caloosahatchee River and the St. Lucie River;
• Changes to the enforcement and implementation of Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs) to achieve Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs);
• Allowing for changes to Florida’s surface water classification system to allow Class II and III surface waters to be used for public supply.
Familiarity with this legislation is essential for environmental practitioners in Florida. For more information, please contact Tim Perry.