HB 1415

A bill to be entitled
2An act relating to the West-Central Florida Water
3Restoration Action Plan; creating s. 373.0363, F.S.;
4providing definitions; providing legislative findings
5and intent; requiring that the Southwest Florida Water
6Management District implement the West-Central Florida
7Water Restoration Action Plan; providing criteria
8governing the implementation of the plan; requiring that
9the district coordinate with regional water supply
10authorities and governmental partners to maximize
11opportunities concerning the efficient expenditure of
12public funds; specifying the plan's purpose; specifying
13the initiatives that are included in the plan; providing
14criteria governing implementation of the Central West
15Coast Surface Water Enhancement Initiative, the
16Facilitating Agricultural Resource Management Systems
17Initiative, the Ridge Lakes Restoration Initiative, the
18Upper Peace River Watershed Restoration Initiative, and
19the Central Florida Water Resource Development
20Initiative and certain components or projects included
21in such initiatives; providing for the district to
22implement certain initiatives or parts thereof in
23cooperation with the Peace River-Manasota Regional Water
24Supply Authority, the Department of Agriculture and
25Consumer Services, or Polk County; requiring an annual
26report that meets specified criteria concerning
27implementation of the plan, regional conditions, and the
28use of funds; providing an effective date.
30Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
32     Section 1.  Section 373.0363, Florida Statutes, is created
33to read:
34     373.0363  West-Central Florida Water Restoration Action
36     (1)  As used in this section, the term:
37     (a)  "District" means the Southwest Florida Water
38Management District.
39     (b)  "Southern Water Use Caution Area" means an area that
40the district designated, after extensive collection of data and
41numerous studies, in order to comprehensively manage water
42resources in the Southern West-Central Groundwater Basin, which
43includes all of Desoto, Hardee, Manatee, and Sarasota Counties,
44and parts of Charlotte, Highlands, Hillsborough, and Polk
46     (c)  "Southern Water Use Caution Area Recovery Strategy"
47means the district's regulatory, planning, and financial
48strategy for ensuring that adequate water supplies are available
49to meet growing demands while protecting and restoring the water
50and related natural resources of the area.
51     (d)  "West-Central Florida Water Restoration Action Plan"
52means the district's regional environmental restoration and
53water resource sustainability program for the Southern Water Use
54Caution Area.
55     (2)  The Legislature finds that:
56     (a)  In response to growing demands from public supply,
57agriculture, mining, power generation, and recreational users,
58groundwater withdrawals in the Southern Water Use Caution Area
59have steadily increased for nearly a century before peaking in
60the middle of the 1970s. These withdrawals resulted in declines
61in aquifer levels throughout the groundwater basin, which in
62some areas exceeded 50 feet.
63     (b)  While groundwater withdrawals have since stabilized as
64a result of the district's management efforts, depressed aquifer
65levels continue to result in saltwater intrusion, reduced flows
66in the Upper Peace River, and lowered water levels and water
67quality impacts for some lakes in the Lake Wales Ridge areas of
68Polk and Highlands Counties.
69     (c)  In response to these resource concerns, and as
70directed by s. 373.036, the district determined that traditional
71sources of water in the region are not adequate to supply water
72for all existing and projected reasonable-beneficial uses and to
73sustain the water resources and related natural systems.
74     (d)  The expeditious implementation of the Southern Water
75Use Caution Area Recovery Strategy is needed to meet the minimum
76flow requirement for the Upper Peace River, slow saltwater
77intrusion, provide for improved lake levels and water quality
78along the Lake Wales Ridge, and ensure sufficient water supplies
79for all existing and projected reasonable and beneficial uses.
80     (e)  Sufficient research has been conducted and sufficient
81plans developed to immediately expand and accelerate programs to
82sustain the water resources and related natural systems in the
83Southern Water Use Caution Area.
84     (f)  Implementation of components of the Southern Water Use
85Caution Area Recovery Strategy, which are contained in the West-
86Central Florida Water Restoration Action Plan, is for the
87benefit of the public health, safety, and welfare and is in the
88public interest.
89     (g)  Implementation of the West-Central Florida Water
90Restoration Action Plan is necessary to meet the minimum flow
91requirement for the Upper Peace River, slow saltwater intrusion,
92provide for improved lake levels and water quality along the
93Lake Wales Ridge, and ensure sufficient water supplies for all
94existing and projected reasonable and beneficial uses.
95     (h)  A continuing source of funding is needed to
96effectively implement the West-Central Florida Water Restoration
97Action Plan.
98     (3)  The district shall implement the West-Central Florida
99Water Restoration Action Plan pursuant to subsection (4). The
100plan shall be implemented in a manner that furthers progressive
101strategies for the management of water resources, is watershed-
102based, provides for consideration of water quality issues, and
103includes monitoring, the development and implementation of best-
104management practices, and structural and nonstructural projects,
105including public works projects. The district shall coordinate
106its implementation of the plan with regional water supply
107authorities, public and private partnerships, and local, state,
108and federal partners in order to maximize opportunities for the
109most efficient and timely expenditures of public funds.
110     (4)  The West-Central Florida Water Restoration Action Plan
112     (a)  The Central West Coast Surface Water Enhancement
113Initiative. The purpose of this initiative is to make available
114additional surface waters for public supply through restoration
115of surface waters, natural water flows, and freshwater wetland
116communities. This initiative is designed to allow ground water
117withdrawals to be limited in order to slow the rate of saltwater
118intrusion. The initiative shall be an ongoing program in
119cooperation with the Peace River-Manasota Regional Water Supply
120Authority created under s. 373.1962. The initiative shall
121include the following components if determined feasible:
122     1.  The Dona Bay-Cow Pen Slough Component. This component
123is anticipated to increase the capacity to store excess
124freshwater flows for the purposes of supplying potable water and
125restoring wetland ecosystems, including the quality and clarity
126of water in the system and the subsequent rejuvenation of the
127system's mollusks, oyster beds, seagrasses, and salinity.
128     2.  The Shell Creek Watershed Component. This component is
129anticipated to increase water storage capacity upstream,
130redirecting stored water to its natural and historical flow
131pattern resulting in a benefit to the downstream ecosystem, and
132capturing high flows for use as public supply during low flow
134     3.  The Upper Myakka River-Flatford Swamp Component. This
135component is anticipated to reduce the amount of water entering
136the swamp so that normal hydroperiods are restored, to create a
137historically more natural system and the opportunity to increase
138the availability of water for public supply.
139     (b)  The Facilitating Agricultural Resource Management
140Systems Initiative. The purpose of this initiative is to
141expedite the implementation of production-scale, best-management
142practices in the agricultural sector which benefit water
143resources by reducing withdrawals from the Floridan aquifer,
144improving the quality of ground and surface waters, and
145conserving and restoring water resources and natural systems.
146     (c)  The Ridge Lakes Restoration Initiative. The purpose of
147this initiative is to protect, restore, and enhance natural
148systems and flood protection by improving and protecting the
149water quality of approximately 130 lakes located along the Lake
150Wales Ridge in Polk and Highlands Counties, which quality is
151threatened by stormwater runoff, wastewater effluent, fertilizer
152applications, groundwater pollution, degradation of shoreline
153habitats, and hydrologic alterations. This initiative shall be
154accomplished through the construction of systems designed to
155treat the stormwater runoff that threatens the water quality of
156such lakes. Such systems include swales, retention basins, and
157long infiltration basins, if feasible.
158     (d)  The Upper Peace River Watershed Restoration
159Initiative. The purpose of this initiative is to improve the
160quality of waters and ecosystems in the watershed of the Upper
161Peace River by recharging aquifers, restoring the flow of
162surface waters, and restoring the capacity of natural systems to
163store surface waters. The Legislature finds that such
164improvements are necessary because the quantity and quality of
165the fresh water that flows to the basin of the Peace River and
166Charlotte Harbor are adversely affected by the significant
167alteration and degradation of the watershed of the Upper Peace
168River, and because restoration of the watershed of the Upper
169Peace River is a critical component of Charlotte Harbor National
170Estuary Program's Comprehensive Conservation and Management
171Plan, the Southwest Florida Water Management District Surface
172Water Improvement and Management Plan, and the Southern Water
173Use Caution Area Recovery Strategy. This initiative shall
174include an Upper Peace River Component. In addition to the
175initiative's other purposes, this component will provide a
176critical link to a major greenway that extends from the lower
177southwest coast of this state through the watershed of the Peace
178River and the Green Swamp and further north to the Ocala
179National Forest. Projects that are included in the Upper Peace
180River Component include:
181     1.  The Lake Hancock Component. The purpose of this
182component is to help meet the minimum flow requirements in the
183Upper Peace River and to improve water quality. The component
184shall include Lake Hancock elevation control structure
185modifications and lake outfall treatment.
186     2.  The Peace Creek Canal Restoration Project. The purpose
187of this project is to enhance the recharge of aquifers, restore
188the capacity of natural systems to store storage waters, and
189provide flood protection. The project shall be implemented by
190undertaking the actions needed to meet the minimum-flow
191requirements under s. 373.042 and thereafter holding excess
192surface water from the Peace Creek Canal in storage for public
193supply, or commercial or industrial water users.
194     (e)  The Central Florida Water Resource Development
195Initiative. The purpose of this initiative is to create and
196implement a long-term plan that takes a comprehensive approach
197to limit ground water withdrawals in the Southern Water Use
198Caution Area, which includes the identification and development
199of alternative water supplies for Polk County. The initiative
200shall be implemented by the district as an ongoing program in
201cooperation with Polk County and the South Florida Water
202Management District. The initiative shall include:
203     1.  The Kissimmee River Component. This component shall
204include developing, if feasible, a supply of potable water from
205surface waters near Lake Kissimmee. This project is intended to
206increase the amount of water available for meeting public water
207demands in the Central Florida Coordination Area while not
208violating the minimum flows and levels adopted for the Kissimmee
210     2.  The Upper Peace River Component. This component shall
211be implemented by investigating the feasibility of using an off-
212stream reservoir to capture water from the Peace River during
213high-flow periods, which may include the storage of water on
214private lands for use as a public water supply.
215     (5)  By March 1 each year, the district shall report on the
216implementation of this section as part of the consolidated
217annual report required in s. 373.036(7). Copies of the report,
218including proposed legislative recommendations, shall be
219submitted to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the
220House of Representatives. The implementation report must
221include, at a minimum:
222     (a)  A summary of the conditions of the Southern Water Use
223Caution Area, including the status of the West-Central Florida
224Water Restoration Action Plan components.
225     (b)  An annual accounting of the expenditure of funds. The
226accounting must, at a minimum, provide details of expenditures
227separately by plan component and any subparts of a plan
228component, and include specific information about amount and use
229of funds from federal, state, or local government sources. In
230detailing the use of these funds, the district shall indicate
231those designated to meet requirements for matching funds.
232     Section 2.  This act shall take effect July 1, 2008.

CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.