(1) The Legislature declares it to be necessary for the public health and welfare that water and water-related resources be conserved and protected. The acquisition of real property for this objective shall constitute a public purpose for which public funds may be expended.
(2) The governing board of the district is empowered and authorized to acquire in fee or less than fee title to real property, easements and other interests or rights therein, by purchase, gift, devise, lease, eminent domain, or otherwise for flood control, water storage, water management, conservation and protection of water resources, aquifer recharge, water resource and water supply development, and preservation of wetlands, streams, and lakes. Eminent domain powers may be used only for acquiring real property for flood control and water storage or for curing title defects or encumbrances to real property owned by the district or to be acquired by the district from a willing seller.
(3) The initial 5-year work plan and any subsequent modifications or additions thereto shall be adopted by each water management district after a public hearing. Each water management district shall provide at least 14 days’ advance notice of the hearing date and shall separately notify each county commission within which a proposed work plan project or project modification or addition is located of the hearing date. (a) Appraisal reports, offers, and counteroffers are confidential and exempt from the provisions of s. 119.07(1) until an option contract is executed or, if no option contract is executed, until 30 days before a contract or agreement for purchase is considered for approval by the governing board. However, each district may, at its discretion, disclose appraisal reports to private landowners during negotiations for acquisitions using alternatives to fee simple techniques, if the district determines that disclosure of such reports will bring the proposed acquisition to closure. In the event that negotiation is terminated by the district, the appraisal report, offers, and counteroffers shall become available pursuant to s. 119.07(1). Notwithstanding the provisions of this section and s. 259.041, a district and the Division of State Lands may share and disclose appraisal reports, appraisal information, offers, and counteroffers when joint acquisition of property is contemplated. A district and the Division of State Lands shall maintain the confidentiality of such appraisal reports, appraisal information, offers, and counteroffers in conformance with this section and s. 259.041, except in those cases in which a district and the division have exercised discretion to disclose such information. A district may disclose appraisal information, offers, and counteroffers to a third party who has entered into a contractual agreement with the district to work with or on the behalf of or to assist the district in connection with land acquisitions. The third party shall maintain the confidentiality of such information in conformance with this section. In addition, a district may use, as its own, appraisals obtained by a third party provided the appraiser is selected from the district’s list of approved appraisers and the appraisal is reviewed and approved by the district.
(b) The Secretary of Environmental Protection shall release moneys from the appropriate account or trust fund to a district for preacquisition costs within 30 days after receipt of a resolution adopted by the district’s governing board which identifies and justifies any such preacquisition costs necessary for the purchase of any lands listed in the district’s 5-year work plan. The district shall return to the department any funds not used for the purposes stated in the resolution, and the department shall deposit the unused funds into the appropriate account or trust fund.
(c) The Secretary of Environmental Protection shall release acquisition moneys from the appropriate account or trust fund to a district following receipt of a resolution adopted by the governing board identifying the lands being acquired and certifying that such acquisition is consistent with the 5-year work plan of acquisition and other provisions of this section. The governing board also shall provide to the Secretary of Environmental Protection a copy of all certified appraisals used to determine the value of the land to be purchased. Each parcel to be acquired must have at least one appraisal. Two appraisals are required when the estimated value of the parcel exceeds $1 million. However, when both appraisals exceed $1 million and differ significantly, a third appraisal may be obtained. If the purchase price is greater than the appraisal price, the governing board shall submit written justification for the increased price. The Secretary of Environmental Protection may withhold moneys for any purchase that is not consistent with the 5-year plan or the intent of this section or that is in excess of appraised value. The governing board may appeal any denial to the Land and Water Adjudicatory Commission pursuant to s. 373.114.
(4) The governing board of the district may purchase tax certificates or tax deeds issued in accordance with chapter 197 relating to property eligible for purchase under this section.
(5) This section shall not limit the exercise of similar powers delegated by statute to any state or local governmental agency or other person.
(6) A district may dispose of land acquired under this section pursuant to s. 373.056 or s. 373.089. However, no such disposition of land shall be made if it would have the effect of causing all or any portion of the interest on any revenue bonds issued pursuant to s. 259.101 or s. 259.105 to fund the acquisition programs detailed in this section to lose the exclusion from gross income for purposes of federal income taxation. Revenue derived from such disposition may not be used for any purpose except the purchase of other lands meeting the criteria specified in this section or payment of debt service on revenue bonds or notes issued under s. 373.584.
(7) The districts have the authority to promulgate rules that include the specific process by which land is acquired; the selection and retention of outside appraisers, surveyors, and acquisition agents; and public notification. Rules adopted pursuant to this subsection shall be submitted to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, for review by the Legislature, no later than 30 days prior to the 2001 Regular Session and shall become effective only after legislative review. In its review, the Legislature may reject, modify, or take no action relative to such rules. The districts shall conform such rules to changes made by the Legislature, or, if no action was taken by the Legislature, such rules shall become effective.