(1) The Legislature declares that an emergency exists regarding Florida Bay due to an environmental crisis manifested in widespread die off of sea grasses, algae blooms, and resulting decreases in marine life. These conditions threaten the ecological integrity of Florida Bay and surrounding areas and the economic viability of Monroe County and the State of Florida. The Legislature further finds that an increase in freshwater flow will assist in the restoration of Florida Bay.
(2) The South Florida Water Management District shall take all actions within its authority to implement an emergency interim plan. The emergency interim plan shall be designed to provide for the release of water into Taylor Slough and Florida Bay by up to 800 cfs, in order to optimize the quantity, timing, distribution, and quality of fresh water, and promote sheet flow into Taylor Slough.
(a) Within 60 days of the issuance of the final federal approvals, the South Florida Water Management District shall complete the installation of the necessary facilities required by the emergency interim plan.
(b) The South Florida Water Management District, upon approval of a majority of the Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund, shall file an eminent domain action to acquire the western three sections of the area known as Frog Pond. The Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund shall reach a decision on whether to approve the use of eminent domain for such purpose not later than January 1, 1995. The South Florida Water Management District, upon such approval, is granted the specific powers to exercise eminent domain to condemn the lands in these areas.
(c) Within 30 days of the acquisition of the property referred to above and the completion of the actions in paragraph (a) above, the South Florida Water Management District shall implement the emergency interim plan.
The above measures are emergency interim actions intended to enhance the quantity, timing, and distribution of freshwater to Taylor Slough and Florida Bay. These measures will benefit the water resources of the South Florida Water Management District and are consistent with the public interest.
(3) The district shall not be required to obtain a permit which may otherwise be required under this chapter or chapter 403 prior to the construction, installation, and operation of the pumping facilities and related facilities required to implement the emergency interim plan. The district is directed to provide information on the emergency interim plan to the department. The district shall minimize environmental impacts which may occur during construction, and shall submit a construction plan to the department. In the event that the emergency interim plan continues beyond July 1, 1996, the district shall apply to the department for a permit to continue to operate these facilities.
(4) The Legislature recognizes that the United States Army Corps of Engineers is developing a comprehensive plan for restoring freshwater flow into Taylor Slough and Florida Bay over the next several years. The emergency interim plan is not a substitute for or in conflict with the provisions of the United States Army Corps of Engineers currently under development. Further, the Legislature directs that the department and the South Florida Water Management District shall request the Federal Government complete and fund the ongoing restoration efforts so as to increase the quantity, quality, timing, and distribution of water delivered to the Bay. The department and the district shall also request the Federal Government to evaluate the release of fresh water under the demonstration project, consistent with applicable law.