"OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR
The Capitol, TalNhassee, Florida 32201
To: Governor Graham
From: Estus Whitfield, Sr. Governmental Analyst, OPS
Subject: Water Policy
Date: March 17, 1981
The Department of Environmental Regulation proposes to adopt water policy by
rule as Chapter 17-40, F.A.C. The proposed rule is basically a set of broad
policy statements intended to be implemented primarily by water management
districts through incorporation into and administration of district rules and
regulations. The proposed water policy represents a joint DER Water Management
District effort with input from the various interest groups. The proposed rule
has undergone several revisions and is scheduled for a final hearing on March 27.
This rule is to become a part of the State Water Use Plan, which pursuant to
Chapter 373, F.S., is to become a functional element of the State Comprehensive
Plan. This raises questions as to what will be the character and role of the
State Water Use Plan and the State Comprehensive Plan. It behooves us to find
answers to these questions quickly.
The Governor's Policies and Priorities for 1981-83 (pages 36-37) contain the
following policies which are either not represented or not clearly reflected in
the proposed water policy:
1) The State shall manage development i.i floodplains to maintain the hydrologic
characteristics of the areas and to reduce flood hazards.
2) The State shall maintain, and where practical, restore natural hydrological
patterns and fluctuations in surface and ground water levels.
3) The State shall protect ground water supplies and aquifer recharge areas
through land and water management practices, land acquisition, and regulation
4) .The State shall discourage large expenditures of public funds for flood
control projects where such funds allow increased development in flood
5) The State shall encourage onsite retention and other means of mitigating
the flooding and water quality impact of storm runoff.
6) The State shall discourage the channelization or alteration of natural rivers,.
streams, and lakes.
7) The State shall protect the values.and functions of wetlands and submerged
More emphasis, I believe, needs to be given to water conservation, floodplain
management, wetlands protection and non-structural water management. These
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areas are critical to future water resources, environmental protection and
These comments are not meant to be critical of the DER, for they have worked
hard for several months in a very sensitive area and with strong special
interests. 'I am also aware that' South Florida Water Management District and
Southwest Florida Water Management District have made some noticeable advances
in responsible water management. The St. Johns District has shown interest
in developing an almost totally non-structural plan for Upper St. Johns River
and with a reliable land acquisition funding source will probably be able to
save the St. Johns River.
We are not doing a bad job managing water; but, the water policy with some
improvement offers us an opportunity to do better.
I recommend that more of the direction embodied in the Policies. and Priorities
be incorporated into the proposed water policy and that greater emphasis be
given to water conservation, floodplain management, wetlands protection, and
non-structured water management. Any such amendments would need to be presented
at the March 27 hearing. Should you favor amendments to the proposed rule,
it would be desirable for you to discuss the matter with the Water Management
District Board Chairmen.
In the interest of overall state planning and particularly the State Comprehensive
Plan, the Office of Planning and Budgeting needs to gain a clear understanding
as to how water policy may impact the substance, format, method of preparation.
and schedule for updating other elements of the Comprehensive Plan, and advise
you of any problems.
The following general statement of policy shall provide a basis for
Department review of water management programs, rules, and plans to
assure that such programs, rules and plans, where economically and
environmentally feasible, not contrary to the public interest, and
consistent with Florida law, seek to:
1. Provide for an adequate and affordable supply of water for all
reasonable beneficial uses and limit uses of water authorized
by a permit to reasonable beneficial uses.
2. Reserve from use that water necessary to support non-withdrawal
demands, including navigation, recreation, and the protection of
fish and wildlife.
3. Promote water conservation as an integral part of water manage-
ment programs, rules, and plans and encourage the use and reuse
of water of the lowest acceptable quality for the purpose in-
4. Utilize, preserve, restore, and enhance natural water management
systems and discourage the channelization or other alteration of
natural rivers, streams and lakes.
5. Protect the natural water storage and water quality enhancement
functions of wetlands, floodplains, and aquifer recharge areas
through acquisition, enforcement of laws, and the application of
land and water management practices which provide for compatible
6. Mitigate adverse impacts resulting from prior alteration of
natural hydrological patterns and fluctuations in surface and
ground water levels.
7. Establish minimum flows and levels to protect water resources and
the environmental values associated with coastal, estuarine,
freshwater, and wetlands ecology.
8. Encourage non-structural solutions to water resource problems and
give adequate consideration to non-structural alternatives when-
ever structural works are proposed.
9. Manage development in floodplains and other flood hazard areas to
prevent or reduce flood damage consistent with maintenance of the
natural hydrologic characteristics of such areas.
10. Manage the construction and operation of facilities which dam,
divert, or otherwise alter the flow of surface waters to prevent
increased flooding or drainage which is harmful to water re-
11. Encourage the development of local or regional water supplies
prior to the transport or use of water across District boun-
12. Control point and non-point sources of water pollution to the
greatest degree feasible as provided in Chapter 17-3, and 17-6,
13. Undertake interstate agreements and cooperative programs with
Alabama and Georgia to provide for coordinated management of
surface and ground waters.