373.0421 Establishment and implementation of minimum flows and minimum water levels.—
(a) Considerations.—When establishing minimum flows and minimum water levels pursuant to s. 373.042, the department or governing board shall consider changes and structural alterations to watersheds, surface waters, and aquifers and the effects such changes or alterations have had, and the constraints such changes or alterations have placed, on the hydrology of an affected watershed, surface water, or aquifer, provided that nothing in this paragraph shall allow significant harm as provided by s. 373.042(1) caused by withdrawals.
1. The Legislature recognizes that certain water bodies no longer serve their historical hydrologic functions. The Legislature also recognizes that recovery of these water bodies to historical hydrologic conditions may not be economically or technically feasible, and that such recovery effort could cause adverse environmental or hydrologic impacts. Accordingly, the department or governing board may determine that setting a minimum flow or minimum water level for such a water body based on its historical condition is not appropriate.
2. The department or the governing board is not required to establish minimum flows or minimum water levels pursuant to s. 373.042 for surface water bodies less than 25 acres in area, unless the water body or bodies, individually or cumulatively, have significant economic, environmental, or hydrologic value.
3. The department or the governing board shall not set minimum flows or minimum water levels pursuant to s. 373.042 for surface water bodies constructed before the requirement for a permit, or pursuant to an exemption, a permit, or a reclamation plan which regulates the size, depth, or function of the surface water body under the provisions of this chapter, chapter 378, or chapter 403, unless the constructed surface water body is of significant hydrologic value or is an essential element of the water resources of the area.
The exclusions of this paragraph shall not apply to the Everglades Protection Area, as defined in s. 373.4592(2)(i).
(2) If, at the time a minimum flow or minimum water level is initially established for a water body pursuant to s. 373.042 or is revised, the existing flow or water level in the water body is below, or is projected to fall within 20 years below, the applicable minimum flow or minimum water level, the department or governing board, as part of the regional water supply plan described in s. 373.709, shall concurrently adopt or modify and implement a recovery or prevention strategy. If a minimum flow or minimum water level has been established for a water body pursuant to s. 373.042, and the existing flow or water level in the water body falls below, or is projected to fall within 20 years below, the applicable minimum flow or minimum water level, the department or governing board shall expeditiously adopt a recovery or prevention strategy. A recovery or prevention strategy shall include the development of additional water supplies and other actions, consistent with the authority granted by this chapter, to:
(a) Achieve recovery to the established minimum flow or minimum water level as soon as practicable; or
(b) Prevent the existing flow or water level from falling below the established minimum flow or minimum water level.
The recovery or prevention strategy must include a phased-in approach or a timetable which will allow for the provision of sufficient water supplies for all existing and projected reasonable-beneficial uses, including development of additional water supplies and implementation of conservation and other efficiency measures concurrent with and, to the maximum extent practical, to offset reductions in permitted withdrawals, consistent with this chapter. The recovery or prevention strategy may not depend solely on water shortage restrictions declared pursuant to s. 373.175 or s. 373.246.
(3) To ensure that sufficient water is available for all existing and future reasonable-beneficial uses and the natural systems, the applicable regional water supply plan prepared pursuant to s. 373.709 shall be amended to include any water supply development project or water resource development project identified in a recovery or prevention strategy. Such amendment shall be approved concurrently with relevant portions of the recovery or prevention strategy.
(4) The water management district shall notify the department if an application for a water use permit is denied based upon the impact that the use will have on an adopted minimum flow or minimum water level. Upon receipt of such notice, the department shall, as soon as practicable and in cooperation with the water management district, conduct a review of the applicable regional water supply plan prepared pursuant to s. 373.709. Such review shall include an assessment by the department of the adequacy of the plan in addressing the legislative intent of s. 373.705(2)(a) which provides that sufficient water be available for all existing and future reasonable-beneficial uses and natural systems and that the adverse effects of competition for water supplies be avoided. If the department determines, based upon this review, that the regional water supply plan does not adequately address the legislative intent of s. 373.705(2)(a), the water management district shall immediately initiate an update of the plan consistent with s. 373.709.
(5) The provisions of this section are supplemental to any other specific requirements or authority provided by law. Minimum flows and minimum water levels shall be reevaluated periodically and revised as needed.
History.—s. 6, ch. 97-160; s. 36, ch. 2004-5; s. 13, ch. 2010-205; s. 6, ch. 2016-1.