2004 Florida Statutes
Florida Aquatic Weed Control Act.
(1) This act shall be known as the "Florida Aquatic Weed Control Act."
(2) The Department of Environmental Protection shall direct the control, eradication, and regulation of noxious aquatic weeds and direct the research and planning related to these activities, as provided in this section, excluding the authority to use fish as a biological control agent, so as to protect human health, safety, and recreation and, to the greatest degree practicable, prevent injury to plant and animal life and property.
(3) It shall be the duty of the department to guide and coordinate the activities of all public bodies, authorities, agencies, and special districts charged with the control or eradication of aquatic weeds and plants. It may delegate all or part of such functions to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
(4) The department shall also promote, develop, and support research activities directed toward the more effective and efficient control of aquatic plants. In the furtherance of this purpose, the department is authorized to:
(a) Accept donations and grants of funds and services from both public and private sources;
(b) Contract or enter into agreements with public or private agencies or corporations for research and development of aquatic plant control methods or for the performance of aquatic plant control activities;
(c) Construct, acquire, operate, and maintain facilities and equipment; and
(d) Enter upon, or authorize the entry upon, private property for purposes of making surveys and examinations and to engage in aquatic plant control activities; and such entry shall not be deemed a trespass.
(5) The Department of Environmental Protection may disburse funds to any special district or other local authority charged with the responsibility of controlling or eradicating aquatic plants, upon:
(a) Receipt of satisfactory proof that such district or authority has sufficient funds on hand to match the state funds herein referred to on an equal basis;
(b) Approval by the department of the control techniques to be used by the district or authority; and
(c) Review and approval of the program of the district or authority by the department to be in conformance with the state control plan.
(6) The department shall adopt rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 to implement provisions of this section conferring powers or duties upon it and perform any other acts necessary for the proper administration, enforcement, or interpretation of this section, including creating general permits and exemptions and adopting rules and forms governing reports.
(7) No person or public agency shall control, eradicate, remove, or otherwise alter any aquatic weeds or plants in waters of the state unless a permit for such activity has been issued by the department, or unless the activity is in waters expressly exempted by department rule. The department shall develop standards by rule which shall address, at a minimum, chemical, biological, and mechanical control activities; an evaluation of the benefits of such activities to the public; specific criteria recognizing the differences between natural and artificially created waters; and the different amount and quality of littoral vegetation on various waters. Applications for a permit to engage in aquatic plant control activities shall be made to the department. In reviewing such applications, the department shall consider the criteria set forth in subsection (2).
(8) As an exemption to all permitting requirements in this section and ss. 369.22 and 369.25, in all freshwater bodies, except aquatic preserves designated under chapter 258 and Outstanding Florida Waters designated under chapter 403, a riparian owner may physically or mechanically remove herbaceous aquatic plants and semiwoody herbaceous plants, such as shrub species and willow, within an area delimited by up to 50 percent of the property owner's frontage or 50 feet, whichever is less, and by a sufficient length waterward from, and perpendicular to, the riparian owner's shoreline to create a corridor to allow access for a boat or swimmer to reach open water. All unvegetated areas shall be cumulatively considered when determining the width of the exempt corridor. Physical or mechanical removal does not include the use of any chemicals or any activity that requires a permit pursuant to part IV of chapter 373.
(9) A permit issued pursuant to this section for the application of herbicides to waters in the state for the control of aquatic plants, algae, or invasive exotic plants is exempt from the requirement to obtain a water pollution operation permit pursuant to s. 403.088
History.--ss. 1, 2, ch. 70-203; s. 3, ch. 80-129; s. 32, ch. 85-81; s. 1, ch. 89-151; s. 187, ch. 94-356; s. 2, ch. 96-238; s. 2, ch. 97-22; s. 75, ch. 98-200; s. 91, ch. 99-245.
Note.--Former s. 372.925.