The department announces a public meeting to present and receive public comments on the draft technical report for the Lower Santa Fe and Ichetucknee Rivers and Priority Springs Minimum Flows and Levels (MFLs), to be adopted in Rule 62-42.300, F.A.C.. The draft technical report is available online at http://www.srwmd.state.fl.us/DocumentCenter/View/17402. The meeting is scheduled for January 21, 2020, 1:00pm at the Wilson Library, Florida Gateway College, 149 SE College Pl, Lake City, Florida 32025. If you have any questions about the Office of Water Policy's Rulemaking efforts, please contact Pamela.Flores@FloridaDEP.gov.
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 purpose of rule development is to stike the previously-adopted minimum flows for the Lower Santa Fe and Ichetucknee Rivers and Priority Springs (LSFIR) and adopt new minimum flows for the LSFIR and any associated recovery and prevention strategy. Department-adopted MFLs and applicable recovery and prevention strategies are effective in all applicable water mangement districts without the need for further rulemaking and generally affects water use permittees. The minimum levels and flows in this rule amendment would be used as a basis for imposing limitations on withdrawals of groundwater and surface water in the consumptive use permit regulatory process and for reviewing proposed surface water management systems in the environmental resource permit regulatory process. The proposed rule will include minimum flows for the LSFIR and any associated recovery or prevention strategy required by section 373.0421, F.S.. The LSFIR includes 6 Outstanding Florida Springs as defined by 373.802(4), F.S., and is therefore subject to 373.805, F.S..
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.