(1) The waters in the state are among its basic resources. Such waters have not heretofore been conserved or fully controlled so as to realize their full beneficial use.
(2) The department and the governing board shall take into account cumulative impacts on water resources and manage those resources in a manner to ensure their sustainability.
(3) It is further declared to be the policy of the Legislature:
(a) To provide for the management of water and related land resources;
(b) To promote the conservation, replenishment, recapture, enhancement, development, and proper utilization of surface and groundwater;
(c) To develop and regulate dams, impoundments, reservoirs, and other works and to provide water storage for beneficial purposes;
(d) To promote the availability of sufficient water for all existing and future reasonable-beneficial uses and natural systems;
(e) To prevent damage from floods, soil erosion, and excessive drainage;
(f) To minimize degradation of water resources caused by the discharge of stormwater;
(g) To preserve natural resources, fish, and wildlife;
(h) To promote the public policy set forth in s. 403.021;
(i) To promote recreational development, protect public lands, and assist in maintaining the navigability of rivers and harbors; and
(j) Otherwise to promote the health, safety, and general welfare of the people of this state.
In implementing this chapter, the department and the governing board shall construe and apply the policies in this subsection as a whole, and no specific policy is to be construed or applied in isolation from the other policies in this subsection.
(4)(a) Because water constitutes a public resource benefiting the entire state, it is the policy of the Legislature that the waters in the state be managed on a state and regional basis. Consistent with this directive, the Legislature recognizes the need to allocate water throughout the state so as to meet all reasonable-beneficial uses. However, the Legislature acknowledges that such allocations have in the past adversely affected the water resources of certain areas in this state. To protect such water resources and to meet the current and future needs of those areas with abundant water, the Legislature directs the department and the water management districts to encourage the use of water from sources nearest the area of use or application whenever practicable. Such sources shall include all naturally occurring water sources and all alternative water sources, including, but not limited to, desalination, conservation, reuse of nonpotable reclaimed water and stormwater, and aquifer storage and recovery. Reuse of potable reclaimed water and stormwater shall not be subject to the evaluation described in s. 373.223(3)(a)-(g). However, this directive to encourage the use of water, whenever practicable, from sources nearest the area of use or application shall not apply to the transport and direct and indirect use of water within the area encompassed by the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control Project, nor shall it apply anywhere in the state to the transport and use of water supplied exclusively for bottled water as defined in s. 500.03(1)(d), nor shall it apply to the transport and use of reclaimed water for electrical power production by an electric utility as defined in s. 366.02(2).
(b) In establishing the policy outlined in paragraph (a), the Legislature realizes that under certain circumstances the need to transport water from distant sources may be necessary for environmental, technical, or economic reasons.
(5) The Legislature recognizes that the water resource problems of the state vary from region to region, both in magnitude and complexity. It is therefore the intent of the Legislature to vest in the Department of Environmental Protection or its successor agency the power and responsibility to accomplish the conservation, protection, management, and control of the waters of the state and with sufficient flexibility and discretion to accomplish these ends through delegation of appropriate powers to the various water management districts. The department may exercise any power herein authorized to be exercised by a water management district; however, to the greatest extent practicable, such power should be delegated to the governing board of a water management district.
(6) It is further declared the policy of the Legislature that each water management district, to the extent consistent with effective management practices, shall approximate its fiscal and budget policies and procedures to those of the state.