The purpose and effect of this rulemaking is to comply with the requirements set forth in s. 373.0465(2)(d), F.S., enacted during the 2016 legislative session. The rulemaking will provide for uniform rules for consumptive use permitting within the Central Florida Water Initiative Area. This will impact consumptive use applicants and permittees within the Central Florida Water Initiative Area, which includes all of Orange, Osceola, Polk and Seminole counties and southern Lake County, as designated by the Central Florida Water Initiative Guiding Document of January 30, 2015, available online.
Springs are of great scientific importance in understanding the diverse functions of aquatic ecosystems. Water quality of springs is an indicator of local conditions of the Floridan Aquifer, which is a source of drinking water for many residents of this state. Water flows in springs may reflect regional aquifer conditions. In addition, springs provide recreational opportunities for swimming, canoeing, wildlife watching, fishing, cave diving and many other activities in this state. In 2016, SB 552 (2016-01, Laws of Florida) amended section 373.219, F.S., to require the department to adopt uniform rules for issuing permits that prevent groundwater withdrawals harmful to the water resources and a uniform definition of the term “harmful to the water resources” to provide water management districts with minimum standards necessary to be consistent with the overall water policy of the state for Outstanding Florida Springs. The rule is likely to affect consumptive use permitting in the Northwest Florida, Suwannee River, St. Johns River and Southwest Florida water management districts.
This rule is being established pursuant to s. 373.042 and 373.0421, F.S. The rulemaking will establish minimum flows and levels for the upper and middle reaches of the Suwannee River and their associated priority springs, including four Outstanding Florida Springs. This will have the potential to impact consumptive use applicants and permittees within the Suwannee River and St. Johns River water management districts.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.