As reported earlier this month, there is a renewed interest in the Florida Legislature this session on springs protection.  Over the summer, FAC has participated in discussions with potential bill sponsors and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regarding legislative concepts intended to address both water quality and water quantity issues within Florida’s springsheds.    Just recently, Senator Simmons (R - Seminole, Volusia) shared a FIRST DRAFT of proposed legislation with FAC and other stakeholders.

The draft bill identifies twenty-one “Outstanding Florida Springs” from Wakulla to Lake County, and requires water management districts to delineate the springsheds and “protection zones” of each of these springs by July 2015.   The bill also requires districts and the DEP to establish a “Baseline Flow Regime” of each of these springs, which is defined as the “pattern of flow variability… as determined for a period of record prior to 1980,” and then to either reserve such water to maintain or restore the Baseline Flow Regime, or to implement a recovery plan to accomplish that goal.

To maintain water quality, the bill would require local governments within these springsheds to adopt, at a minimum, the DEP Model Fertilizer Ordinance, and at least 50% slow-release nitrogen at IFAS-recommended application rates.    For springs determined to be impaired, DEP must develop by 2017, BMAPs with detailed allocations for agricultural and residential fertilizer, septic tanks, animal waste and wastewater treatment facilities.   As part of the BMAP, all wastewater treatment facilities within spring protection zones must meet AWT nitrogen standards by 2019.  There are also provisions for mandatory agricultural BMPs and septic tank connections and upgrades at no cost to property owners – with rebates and/or reimbursements dependent upon documentary stamp collections and appropriations.   The bill also provides a list of prohibited activities within springs protection zones, such as new wastewater disposal systems, rapid infiltration basins, new septic tanks, and hazardous waste facilities.    

If interested in reviewing the full text of this DRAFT legislation, please contact Stephen James.