Title: A paper entitled "Water Management in Florida." 2p. (SD8WMIF.DOC)
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Title: A paper entitled "Water Management in Florida." 2p. (SD8WMIF.DOC)
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Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
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Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00052191
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
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regional districts with lay collegial boards which are
independently funded.

During Florida's 14 years of experience with the Water Resources
Act, problems have been solved by the districts themselves, by
the legislature, by DER, and by the citizens of the state.
Difficulties and frictions are inevitable in a state as large and
diverse as Florida with so many competing interests, but the
system has retained the flexibility to resolve conflicts.
DER has provided supervision and guidance in formulating its
Water Policy as part of the State Water Use Plan. DER has
delegated several of its water quality functions to the districts
to streamline regulation and eliminate duplication. Agency
agreements between DER and the districts, and collocated field
offices helps. Agreements between water management districts and
local governmental also have helped to avoid duplication and to
eliminate confusion.

In addition to the funding provided as a result of a 1976
constitutional amendment (the first time in Florida's history
that the people by popular vote opted to tax themselves) to
authorize ad valorem taxes, funding has been provided by general
revenue and by allocation of a portion of the documentary stamp
S tax for th .ave .u -Rivwrs program. Independence, necessary to
j/Jretain the vitality and responsiveness of the regional districts,
-k is furthered by the exercise of restraint by the governor, the
< i legislature, and DER.

Florida's water management districts, born out of concerns for
flooding and management of excess water, have implemented and
exercised their statutory authority in a responsible manner. The
districts now have programs to deal with well construction, deep
well injection, lake levels, use of district lands, SNve -&or
S..i...I i i ?J, f l o o d d e t e n t i o n a n d r e t e n t i o n a r e a s w a t e r
S shortages and droughts, water conservation, aquifer recharge,
/. L4 stormwater, wetlands, surface water management, water transfers,
and consumptive use. This is a remarkable achievement in view of
the diverse needs and interests that occur in the districts in
varying proportion: urban coastal populations, rural agricultural
populations, developers, industry. These interests are balanced
equitably by the board members of Florida's five water management
districts. The system has proved itself to be flexible, fair,
and hard-working.


SD8 WM IF DOC ... .
't ..... ..+ ., 'I










S/ Wat r Management in Florida


During the 14 years since the 1972 Water Resources Act was
passed, Florida has developed a comprehensive, equitable, and
flexible system of water management. The system has adapted well
to the unique nature of Florida's water resources and climate and
to changes in Florida's population. Floridians can be proud of
this system, which finds its strength in its regional divisions,
its independent lay boards, the guidance of DER, and the
responsiveness of the legislature.

Florida's system of independent, regional water management
districts was authorized by the 1972 Water Resources Act. The
Act completely changed water management in Florida by granting
the districts authority to regulate all water in accordance with
the policies expressed in the Act. Previously, the focus of
Florida water management had been on excess water. The Central
and Southern Florida Flood Control District, which became the
South Florida Water Management District, was formed in 1949 to
manage drainage projects. Southwest Florida Water Management
District, which retained its name with some boundary changes, was
formed in 1961 in response to flooding problems. Both districts
had ad valorem taxing authority.

During the droughts of the 1960's both districts began to devote
more attention to water shortages, saltwater intrusion and a
growing demand for water. The legislature addressed the subject
in 1972 and mandated that the entire state be divided into water
management districts. It authorized delegation of wide range of
powers to these districts, including regulatory activities as
well as land acquisition and construction projects.

The 1972 Water Resources Act was based on the premise that all
waters in the state are subject to regulation under provisions of
the Act. Subsequent court decisions have interpreted this to
mean that water is not subject to ownership until it is legally
captured. The Act set up a method of regulating the capture of
water under equitable principles: the use of the water must be
reasonable-beneficial; consistent with the public interest, and
not interfere with any existing legal use.

The Act recognized the unique nature of Florida's water resources
by authorizing districts with boundaries drawn on topographical
and hydrologic principles rather than political boundaries; thus,
the districts are able to recognize the unique resources and
needs of each part of the state. Nine-member lay boards were
authorized to set policy, and to determine how to apply the Act's
equitable principles to each district's special needs. In 1976,
following passage of an enabling constitutional amendment, all
districts were given ad valorem taxing authority. This is the
ultimate genius and strength of Florida's water management system





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