FAC recently disseminated a DRAFT springs protection bill prepared by Senator Simmons (R - .  In short, the bill identifies 21 “Outstanding Florida Springs” and requires water management districts to delineate the springsheds and “protection zones” of each of these springs by July 2015.   The bill also requires the establishment of a “Baseline Flow Regime,” defined as the “pattern of flow variability…  as determined for a period of record prior to 1980,” and either a reservation to maintain the baseline flow, or a recovery plan to restore it. 

To maintain water quality, the bill would require local governments within these springsheds to adopt, at a minimum, the DEP Model Fertilizer Ordinance, with at least 50% slow-release nitrogen at IFAS-recommended application rates.    For impaired springs, DEP must develop BMAPs with detailed allocations for agricultural and residential fertilizer, septic tanks, animal waste and wastewater treatment facilities.   There are also provisions for mandatory agricultural BMPs and septic tank connection and upgrades, at no cost to property owners – with rebates and/or reimbursements dependent upon documentary stamp collections and appropriations.   

Last week, Senator Simmons responded to the many comments by sending out to stakeholders two specific redrafts: one from the City of Altamonte Springs; and one from the Florida Conservation Coalition.   The former deletes references to Baseline Flow Regimes and instead requires establishment of MFLs.  It also adds a consideration of reclaimed water and deletes the partial and pro rata reimbursement to local governments and doc stamp funding source.  The latter supports the DRAFT language as a whole, with the addition of annual reports and funding sources (such as the revolving loan program), and the deletion of the fertilizer preemption. 

Senator Simmons has now asked stakeholders to review and comment on these two drafts, with the expectation of a revised proposal in the coming week or so.   If you would like to comment, or to revise comments previously provided based upon the aforementioned responses -- or for more information on the springs protection bill -- please contact Stephen James at sjames@fl-counties.com