(1) The purpose of this section is to encourage cooperation in the development of water supplies and to provide for alternative water supply development.
(a) Demands on natural supplies of fresh water to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population and the needs of the environment, agriculture, industry, and mining will continue to increase.
(b) There is a need for the development of alternative water supplies for Florida to sustain its economic growth, economic viability, and natural resources.
(c) Cooperative efforts between municipalities, counties, special districts, water management districts, and the Department of Environmental Protection are mandatory in order to meet the water needs of rapidly urbanizing areas in a manner that will supply adequate and dependable supplies of water where needed without resulting in adverse effects upon the areas from which such water is withdrawn. Such efforts should use all practical means of obtaining water, including, but not limited to, withdrawals of surface water and groundwater, reuse, and desalinization, and will necessitate not only cooperation but also well-coordinated activities. Municipalities, counties, and special districts are encouraged to create regional water supply authorities as authorized in s. 373.713 or multijurisdictional water supply entities.
(d) Alternative water supply development must receive priority funding attention to increase the available supplies of water to meet all existing and future reasonable-beneficial uses and to benefit the natural systems.
(e) Cooperation between counties, municipalities, regional water supply authorities, multijurisdictional water supply entities, special districts, and publicly owned and privately owned water utilities in the development of countywide and multicountywide alternative water supply projects will allow for necessary economies of scale and efficiencies to be achieved in order to accelerate the development of new, dependable, and sustainable alternative water supplies.
(f) It is in the public interest that county, municipal, industrial, agricultural, and other public and private water users; the Department of Environmental Protection; and the water management districts cooperate and work together in the development of alternative water supplies to avoid the adverse effects of competition for limited supplies of water. Public moneys or services provided to private entities for alternative water supply development may constitute public purposes that also are in the public interest.
(2)(a) Sufficient water must be available for all existing and future reasonable-beneficial uses and the natural systems, and the adverse effects of competition for water supplies must be avoided.
(b) Water supply development and alternative water supply development must be conducted in coordination with water management district regional water supply planning.
(c) Funding for the development of alternative water supplies shall be a shared responsibility of water suppliers and users, the State of Florida, and the water management districts, with water suppliers and users having the primary responsibility and the State of Florida and the water management districts being responsible for providing funding assistance.
(3) The primary roles of the water management districts in water resource development as it relates to supporting alternative water supply development are:
(a) The formulation and implementation of regional water resource management strategies that support alternative water supply development;
(b) The collection and evaluation of surface water and groundwater data to be used for a planning level assessment of the feasibility of alternative water supply development projects;
(c) The construction, operation, and maintenance of major public works facilities for flood control, surface and underground water storage, and groundwater recharge augmentation to support alternative water supply development;
(d) Planning for alternative water supply development as provided in regional water supply plans in coordination with local governments, regional water supply authorities, multijurisdictional water supply entities, special districts, and publicly owned and privately owned water utilities and self-suppliers;
(e) The formulation and implementation of structural and nonstructural programs to protect and manage water resources in support of alternative water supply projects; and
(f) The provision of technical and financial assistance to local governments and publicly owned and privately owned water utilities for alternative water supply projects and to self-suppliers for alternative water supply projects to the extent that such assistance to self-suppliers promotes the policies in paragraph (1)(f).
(4) The primary roles of local government, regional water supply authorities, multijurisdictional water supply entities, special districts, and publicly owned and privately owned water utilities in alternative water supply development shall be:
(a) The planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of alternative water supply development projects;
(b) The formulation and implementation of alternative water supply development strategies and programs;
(c) The planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of facilities to collect, divert, produce, treat, transmit, and distribute water for sale, resale, or end use; and
(d) The coordination of alternative water supply development activities with the appropriate water management district having jurisdiction over the activity.
(5) Nothing in this section shall be construed to preclude the various special districts, municipalities, and counties from continuing to operate existing water production and transmission facilities or to enter into cooperative agreements with other special districts, municipalities, and counties for the purpose of meeting their respective needs for dependable and adequate supplies of water; however, the obtaining of water through such operations shall not be done in a manner that results in adverse effects upon the areas from which such water is withdrawn.
(6)(a) If state funds are provided through specific appropriation or pursuant to the Water Protection and Sustainability Program, such funds serve to supplement existing water management district or basin board funding for alternative water supply development assistance and should not result in a reduction of such funding. For each project identified in the annual funding plans prepared pursuant to s. 373.536(6)(a)4., the water management districts shall include in the annual tentative and adopted budget submittals required under this chapter the amount of funds allocated for water resource development that supports alternative water supply development and the funds allocated for alternative water supply projects. It shall be the goal of each water management district and basin boards that the combined funds allocated annually for these purposes be, at a minimum, the equivalent of 100 percent of the state funding provided to the water management district for alternative water supply development. If this goal is not achieved, the water management district shall provide in the budget submittal an explanation of the reasons or constraints that prevent this goal from being met, an explanation of how the goal will be met in future years, and affirmation of match is required during the budget review process as established under s. 373.536(5). The Suwannee River Water Management District and the Northwest Florida Water Management District shall not be required to meet the match requirements of this paragraph; however, they shall try to achieve the match requirement to the greatest extent practicable. (b) State funds from the Water Protection and Sustainability Program created in s. 403.890 shall be made available for financial assistance for the project construction costs of alternative water supply development projects selected by a water management district governing board for inclusion in the program.
(7) The water management district shall implement its responsibilities as expeditiously as possible in areas subject to regional water supply plans. Each district’s governing board shall include in its annual budget the amount needed for the fiscal year to assist in implementing alternative water supply development projects.
(8)(a) The water management districts and the state shall share a percentage of revenues with water providers and users, including local governments, water, wastewater, and reuse utilities, municipal, special district, industrial, and agricultural water users, and other public and private water users, to be used to supplement other funding sources in the development of alternative water supplies and conservation projects that result in quantifiable water savings.
(b) Beginning in the 2005-2006 fiscal year, the state shall annually provide a portion of those revenues deposited into the Water Protection and Sustainability Program Trust Fund for the purpose of providing funding assistance for the development of alternative water supplies and conservation projects that result in quantifiable water savings pursuant to the Water Protection and Sustainability Program. At the beginning of each fiscal year, beginning with the 2005-2006 fiscal year, such revenues shall be distributed by the department into the alternative water supply trust fund accounts created by each district for the purpose of alternative water supply development under the following funding formula:
1. Thirty percent to the South Florida Water Management District;
2. Twenty-five percent to the Southwest Florida Water Management District;
3. Twenty-five percent to the St. Johns River Water Management District;
4. Ten percent to the Suwannee River Water Management District; and
5. Ten percent to the Northwest Florida Water Management District.
(c) The financial assistance for alternative water supply projects allocated in each district’s budget as required in subsection (6) shall be combined with the state funds and used to assist in funding the project construction costs of alternative water supply projects and the project costs of conservation projects that result in quantifiable water savings selected by the governing board. If the district has not completed any regional water supply plan, or the regional water supply plan does not identify the need for any alternative water supply projects, funds deposited in that district’s trust fund may be used for water resource development projects, including, but not limited to, springs protection.
(d) All projects submitted to the governing board for consideration shall reflect the total capital cost for implementation. The costs shall be segregated pursuant to the categories described in the definition of capital costs.
(e) Applicants for projects that may receive funding assistance pursuant to the Water Protection and Sustainability Program shall, at a minimum, be required to pay 60 percent of the project’s construction costs. The water management districts may, at their discretion, totally or partially waive this requirement for projects sponsored by: 1. Financially disadvantaged small local governments as defined in former s. 403.885(5); or
2. Water users for projects determined by a water management district governing board to be in the public interest pursuant to paragraph (1)(f), if the projects are not otherwise financially feasible.
The water management districts or basin boards may, at their discretion, use ad valorem or federal revenues to assist a project applicant in meeting the requirements of this paragraph.
(f) The governing boards shall determine those projects that will be selected for financial assistance. The governing boards may establish factors to determine project funding; however, significant weight shall be given to the following factors:
1. Whether the project provides substantial environmental benefits by preventing or limiting adverse water resource impacts.
2. Whether the project reduces competition for water supplies.
3. Whether the project brings about replacement of traditional sources in order to help implement a minimum flow or level or a reservation.
4. Whether the project will be implemented by a consumptive use permittee that has achieved the targets contained in a goal-based water conservation program approved pursuant to s. 373.227.
5. The quantity of water supplied by the project as compared to its cost.
6. Projects in which the construction and delivery to end users of reuse water is a major component.
7. Whether the project will be implemented by a multijurisdictional water supply entity or regional water supply authority.
8. Whether the project implements reuse that assists in the elimination of domestic wastewater ocean outfalls as provided in s. 403.086(9). 9. Whether the county or municipality, or the multiple counties or municipalities, in which the project is located has implemented a high-water recharge protection tax assessment program as provided in s. 193.625. (g) Additional factors to be considered in determining project funding shall include:
1. Whether the project is part of a plan to implement two or more alternative water supply projects, all of which will be operated to produce water at a uniform rate for the participants in a multijurisdictional water supply entity or regional water supply authority.
2. The percentage of project costs to be funded by the water supplier or water user.
3. Whether the project proposal includes sufficient preliminary planning and engineering to demonstrate that the project can reasonably be implemented within the timeframes provided in the regional water supply plan.
4. Whether the project is a subsequent phase of an alternative water supply project that is underway.
5. Whether and in what percentage a local government or local government utility is transferring water supply system revenues to the local government general fund in excess of reimbursements for services received from the general fund, including direct and indirect costs and legitimate payments in lieu of taxes.
(h) After conducting one or more meetings to solicit public input on eligible projects, including input from those entities identified pursuant to s. 373.709(2)(a)3.d. for implementation of alternative water supply projects, the governing board of each water management district shall select projects for funding assistance based upon the criteria set forth in paragraphs (f) and (g). The governing board may select a project identified or listed as an alternative water supply development project in the regional water supply plan, or allocate up to 20 percent of the funding for alternative water supply projects that are not identified or listed in the regional water supply plan but are consistent with the goals of the plan.
(i) Without diminishing amounts available through other means described in this paragraph, the governing boards are encouraged to consider establishing revolving loan funds to expand the total funds available to accomplish the objectives of this section. A revolving loan fund created under this paragraph must be a nonlapsing fund from which the water management district may make loans with interest rates below prevailing market rates to public or private entities for the purposes described in this section. The governing board may adopt resolutions to establish revolving loan funds which must specify the details of the administration of the fund, the procedures for applying for loans from the fund, the criteria for awarding loans from the fund, the initial capitalization of the fund, and the goals for future capitalization of the fund in subsequent budget years. Revolving loan funds created under this paragraph must be used to expand the total sums and sources of cooperative funding available for the development of alternative water supplies. The Legislature does not intend for the creation of revolving loan funds to supplant or otherwise reduce existing sources or amounts of funds currently available through other means.
(j) For each utility that receives financial assistance from the state or a water management district for an alternative water supply project, the water management district shall require the appropriate rate-setting authority to develop rate structures for water customers in the service area of the funded utility that will:
1. Promote the conservation of water; and
2. Promote the use of water from alternative water supplies.
(k) The governing boards shall establish a process for the disbursal of revenues pursuant to this subsection.
(l) All revenues made available pursuant to this subsection must be encumbered annually by the governing board when it approves projects sufficient to expend the available revenues.
(m) This subsection is not subject to the rulemaking requirements of chapter 120.
(n) By March 1 of each year, as part of the consolidated annual report required by s. 373.036(7), each water management district shall submit a report on the disbursal of all budgeted amounts pursuant to this section. Such report shall describe all alternative water supply projects funded as well as the quantity of new water to be created as a result of such projects and shall account separately for any other moneys provided through grants, matching grants, revolving loans, and the use of district lands or facilities to implement regional water supply plans.
(o) The Florida Public Service Commission shall allow entities under its jurisdiction constructing or participating in constructing facilities that provide alternative water supplies to recover their full, prudently incurred cost of constructing such facilities through their rate structure. If construction of a facility or participation in construction is pursuant to or in furtherance of a regional water supply plan, the cost shall be deemed to be prudently incurred. Every component of an alternative water supply facility constructed by an investor-owned utility shall be recovered in current rates. Any state or water management district cost share is not subject to the recovery provisions allowed in this paragraph.
(9) Funding assistance provided by the water management districts for a water reuse system may include the following conditions for that project if a water management district determines that such conditions will encourage water use efficiency: (a) Metering of reclaimed water use for residential irrigation, agricultural irrigation, industrial uses, except for electric utilities as defined in s. 366.02(2), landscape irrigation, golf course irrigation, irrigation of other public access areas, commercial and institutional uses such as toilet flushing, and transfers to other reclaimed water utilities;
(b) Implementation of reclaimed water rate structures based on actual use of reclaimed water for the reuse activities listed in paragraph (a);
(c) Implementation of education programs to inform the public about water issues, water conservation, and the importance and proper use of reclaimed water; or
(d) Development of location data for key reuse facilities.