Title: Grow, Gerald. "Florida's New Water Policy," and "Summary of New Water Policy," ENFO. 4p.
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Title: Grow, Gerald. "Florida's New Water Policy," and "Summary of New Water Policy," ENFO. 4p.
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Vanishing resource or a treasure to be protected by the new Water Policy? .............
Photo by Fla. Game & Freshwater Fish Comm ............................ Only time will tell.


by Gerald Grow

Several issues ago, ENFO called the
development of a water policy "the
most important issue in Florida." Now
we are happy to report that, after
months of intense work by hundreds
of people, a water policy has been
And it is a good one.
There was a crucial moment,
however, when the Water Policy
almost succumbed to a morass of
evasive statements. But, in a period of
high drama, the final water policy
emerged as a vivid commitment to
natural systems, conservation, and
non-structural solutions.

Since their creation, the Water
Management Districts have been
noted for going their separate ways on
some issues. Some of this was due to
ENFO is a publication of the Florid
Information (
William M. Partington, Jr., Director

the fact that the water situation in
Florida varies a great deal in different
parts of the state. Some of the dif-
ferences, however, seemed to owe
more to the political and economic in-
terests in each part of the state.
Moreover, some of the districts had
been very active participants in huge
water-manipulation projects that
changed the face of much of South
Conservationists were upset by the
big canals and dikes. Later, business
interests became increasingly upset by
the lack of coordination among the
water management districts, and by in-
consistencies in permitting and other
It became all too clear that no one
was really in control. Water, Florida's
single most important resource, was
being managed piecemeal by five
dispersed agencies, some of which

continued next page
la Conservation Foundation, researched and
,enter, 935 Orange Avenue, Winter Park, Flor


of New Water Policy
by Gerald Grow

The Water Policy is divided into 8
main sections:
An introduction and definitions
General Water Policy
Water Use
Water Transport
Surface Water Management
Minimum Flows and Levels
Coordination with Water Manage
ment Districts
Review and Application
The General Water Policy contains
some of the most important statements
in the document. After the usual intro-
duction, which cites the relevant laws,
and definitions of terms to be used,
the General Water Policy lays out,
in 13 statements, the heart of the mat-
ter. These are statements of general
guidance, laying down the basic prin-
cipals that all "water management
programs, rules, and plans" will be ex-
pected in general to follow.
The Water Policy requires tPat water
be reserved for navigation, recreation,
and the protection of fish and wildlife.
(Italics added by ENFO throughout)
Water management programs must
emphasize conservation of water.
They must also encourage the "use
and reuse of water of the lowest accep-
table quality."
Water management programs must
utilize and protect natural water
management systems, specifically in-
cluding wetlands, floodplains, and
aquifer recharge areas. Such areas are
to be protected, among other ways,
through acquisition.
Water management programs must
continued page 3
edited by the Environmental
ida 32789.
Harlan Herbert, President

-------- ------- --------- -----------

WATER POLICY fromage 1
were extremely large and powerful.
As reported in an earlier ENFO, the
Water Policy went through a tortuous
history. Starting with the Water Ele-
ment of the State Comprehensive
Plan, the Water Policy surged forward,
dropped back, crested again, then,
just at the moment it seemed ready to
pass, Governor Graham came into of-
fice, Jake Varn was appointed head of
The Dept. of Environmental Regula-
tion, and the Water Policy vanished
from sight.

The original Water Policy was meant
to be adopted by the legislature as part
of the Comprehensive Plan. The
legislature, however, backed down
from the State Comprehensive Plan,
and reduced it to only an advisory
document. The developing Water
Policy, which consisted at that time of
a general policy coupled to the
management plans of the five Water
Management Districts, suddenly lost
its footing. Even if it had been passed,
no one is quite sure what effect it
could have had.
In a controversial move strongly
questioned by the Auditor General,
Varn decided to start over again and
adopt a Water Policy "by rule." The
rule-making procedure, set forth in
Chapter 120 of the State Ad-
ministrative Code, is the system
whereby a state agency can propose a
new regulation, announce it in ad-
vance, hold certain required public
hearings, respond to public input, and
then adopt the new regulation.
A rule adopted in this manner has
the force of law. It is as real as if the
legislature had passed it.
In spite of a highly critical audit of
water management, Varn and his staff
stuck to this approach. As related to us
by Terry Cole, chief counsel for the
Department of Environmental Regula-
tion (DER), hundreds of people con-
tributed to the development of the
water policy, dozens of groups, cities,
counties, interests, and agencies par-
ticipated, and a handful of individuals
spent many long months working out
a policy that the water management
districts could live with, DER could
support, and that would be largely ac-
ceptable to the major interest groups
in Florida.


The Water Policy went through draft
after draft. ENFO obtained several ear-
ly drafts of the Policy, and they all had

significant differences among them. It
was a very confusing time. People
wanting to comment upon the Policy
often could not obtain the latest draft.
Secretary Varn and his staff held a
meeting with environmental leaders in
the Spring of 1981 at Tall Timbers
Research Station, and even then the
draft he gave us was out of date. None
of us could be certain whether the
Policy was being developed fairly, or
whether some enormous smokescreen
was going up to cover what was really
There were some very good things
in the Policy. But no one could tell
which draft was which, which policy
was current and which was changed.
We couldn't tell what was going on.

The first public hearing was only
moderately noisy, perhaps because
everyone knew that a second hearing
would be coming up. At this hearing,
several people, including myself, rais-
ed a series of questions. I asked the
panel from DER to track certain
changes from older drafts to the pre-
sent one, and explain what the dif-
ferences meant. Several other
speakers, including Charles Lee, Paul
Parks, and Jack Merriam, zeroed in on
the General Water Policy section.
Representatives from DER complained
that groundwater had not been given
sufficient consideration. It was a lively
meeting, with many speakers from
many cities and agencies.
The second hearing, however, was
reportedly explosive. By this time, en-
vironmentalists realized that the Water
Policy was in danger of going down
the tubes. In many instances, the word-
ing of the General Water Policy sec-
tion had gotten so convoluted that it
was difficult to tell what it was ad-
vacating. It seemed to meander in all
directions at once, like a river flowing
backwards. Things looked bad.
Then a remarkable thing happened.
Following the impetus from the
Governor, Vicki Tshinkel now
Secretary of DER after Varn was sud-
denly transferred to fill a vacancy at
the Department of Transportation -
ordered the General Water Policy sec-
tion withdrawn and rewritten.
This act saved the Water Policy.

While he was secretary of DER, ac-
cording to everyone I have talked to,

Jake Varn gave ardent support to the
continued page 3

The prolonged drought has had
some benefit almost everyone
now believes what environmen-
talists have warned for years that
Florida does have a water crisis. Un-
controlled woods fires whose
smoke caused traffic fatalities on
super-highways, a rash of sinkholes
including the largest in an urban
area (Winter Park), mandatory
water use cutbacks, Lake
Okeechobee at an all-time low as its
fisheries vanish, South East Florida
declared a water disaster area -
who can ignore the fact that, as
Gerald Grow states, there is no ex-
cess water in Florida?
The state's new Water Policy is
right on target and not a minute too
soon. We hope you'll read the
three articles describing it with a
pen in hand, marking up for future
reference those passages that mean
something to you. Better yet, get a
copy of the Policy and check it out
against our summary article. Finally,
we hope that our sponsors will see
that its provisions trickle down to
local regulations and actions.
On the subject of the attention-
demanding drought, some analysts
are predicting that 1982 will be the
year for passing major water legisla-
tion. ENFO is interested in hearing
sponsors' ideas, and we've seen ar-
ticles by legislators asking for consti-
tuents' ideas. What's needed in
view of the laws we already have?
Can water be a growth-regulating
The state Save Our Rivers Bill,
now law, is a landmark that com-
plements the Water Policy and
makes 1981 another banner year
for Florida environmental legisla-
tion. Furthermore, we expect that
the Governor will stay on this water
issue, and that he'll also give coastal
zone protection a high priority.
Again, not a moment to soon.
The pesticide article on Dr.
Lipsey's survey is an item we
wanted to have critiqued before
our readers made use of it. The in-
itial findings were startling, but they
may not be supportable, as Carolee
Boyles-Sprenkel shows.
Finally, we hope you will enjoy
reading Florida Parks as much as
we did. The author spent years on
the research and writing. It's a gem,
and it deserves wide distribution.


- II I I I

WATER POLICY from pagt
development of a Water Policy. I have
no reason to believe that his transfer to
DOT helped the policy. It is probably a
coincidence that Vicki Tschinkel took
over at DER at the crucial moment and
pulled the Water Policy out of the hole
into the light.
But it seems that Governor Graham
really saved the Water Policy.
As he had promised a gathering of
environmentalists at the Tallahassee
Junior Museum in the early summer of
1981, Governor Graham came out
strongly in support of a Water Policy
that would protect natural systems and
emphasize non-structural solutions to
water problems.
At the same time, Graham was
working to get the legislature to pass
one of his favorite bills the Save Our
Rivers Bill. This bill authorized a slight
increase in the deed stamp tax to pro-
vide funds the Water Management
Districts could use to buy wetlands
that were crucial to the protection of
water supplies and water bodies in the
state. The bill earmarked such areas as
the St. Johns River marshes and the
Green Swamp as prime for acquisi-
I don't know who wrote it, but, after
the second public hearing, a new ver-
sion of the General Water Policy sec-
tion appeared. This version, with in-
significant changes, was adopted and
is summarized elsewhere in this issue.

The new Water Policy, with its
General section that emphasizes
natural systems and the use of non-
structural solutions, is not only an im-
portant document for Florida, but it
may also reflect for us some important
changes behind the scenes.
Helped by Governor Graham's ap-
pointments, the Water Management
Districts in Florida seem to have been
moving toward a better appreciation
of natural systems and away from large
water works. All the Water Manage-
ment Districts endorsed the Water
Policy and its emphasis on non-
structural solutions.
Even more interestingly, during the
debate over the Save Our Rivers bill, it
appears that Water Management
Districts took a statewide view of the

problem, and, instead of strangling the
bill with floor fights over who was go-
ing to get how much, the districts en-
couraged a distribution of Save Our
Rivers funds that really seems to put
the money where it is most desperate-
ly needed now.

SUMMARY from page 1
seek to "mitigate adverse impacts
resulting from prior alteration of
natural hydrologic patterns."
Water management programs must
"establish minimum flows and levels to
protect water resources and the en-
vironmental values associated with
marine, estuarine, freshwater, and
wetlands ecology."
Water management programs must
"encourage non-structural solutions to
water resource problems."
Water management programs must
work to reduce flood damage, prevent
increased flooding, soil erosion, or ex-
cessive drainage.
Water management programs must
"encourage the development of local
or regional water supplies within
districts, rather than transport water
across District boundaries."
The General Policy also calls for the
development of interstate agreements
with Georgia and Alabama "to pro-
vide for coordinated management of
surface and ground waters."
The overall purpose of the Water
Policy is to "assure availability of an
adequate and affordable supply of
water for all reasonable-beneficial
uses." As you might suspect,
"reasonable-beneficial" is a term that
will require considerable defining.

17-40.04 WATER USE
Anyone applying for a permit must
establish that the proposed use is a
"reasonable-beneficial use."
Among other things, the following
should be considered by Water
Management Districts in deciding
whether to grant a permit for water
quantity of water requested; need;
purpose and value of the use;
suitability of the use to the source of
extent and amount of harm caused
by the use; the chances of mitigating
that harm; whether or not the water
use impacts upon lands not owned or
controlled by the user; extent of water
quality degradation caused by the use;
whether the use would increase
flooding or salt water intrusion;
the method and efficiency of use;
water conservation measures taken;
the practicality of reuse, or use of
water of lower quality;

present and projected demand for
the source of the water; long-term
yield from the source; the amount of
water that can be withdrawn without
causing harm to the resource;
"other relevant factors."

S 4

This section of the Water Policy
reiterates that "Conservation of water
shall be a requirement" for a permit,
but adds the qualification "unless not
economically or environmentally
feasible." That "unless" bears watch-
ing. So does the "or". (How could
conservation not be "environmentally
The General Water Policy en-
courages Districts to "develop local or
regional water supplies...rather than
transport water across District boun-
Nevertheless, as the current drought
has made clear, more and more people
are going to think that big pipelines are
an "obvious" solution to South
Florida's water problems. Transport of
water across Water Management
District boundaries is likely to become
an increasingly important considera-
tion in Florida, as it has been in Califor-
nia. We will have to try to learn from
the California experience, where
water has been shipped from the north-
ern to the southern part of the state for
some decades to the severe detri-
ment of some areas.
The Water Policy specifies certain
things that should be taken into con-
sideration before large-scale water'
transport can be approved (such as a
pipeline from a north Florida river into
central or south Florida).
As specified in the Policy, Districts
"should consider" things like [note
that "should" is weaker than "shall"]:
costs, benefits, and environmental
whether comprehensive water con-
servation and reuse programs have
been "implemented and enforced" in
the area of need. [Note: this language
stops short of saying that conservation
and reuse programs are a prerequisite
continued next page

ENFO is published six or more times a
year. The statements expressed are those
of the authors, who are responsible for
their accuracy, and do not necessarily
reflect the opinions of the Florida Con-
servation Foundation. Environmental
writers are invited to submit ideas or
original articles for publication to the
Gerald Grow

809 Teague St.
Tallahassee, FL 32803
Editorial staff:
Bill Partington Peggy Lantz
Copyright 1981 Florida Conservation
Foundation, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
(ISSN: 0276-9956)


SUMMARY from page
for a water transfer.]
whether or not the transport is "en-
vironmentally and economically" ac-
ceptable. [Note the "and"; that's
stronger than "or".]
whether the area supplying the
water has a good estimate of its pre-
sent and projected needs, and
whether these can be satisfied with the
water left over.
whether the transport is part of a
"regional" plan which might
culminate in "plans for eventual inter-
connection of water supply sources."
[That awesome phrase suggests a
future when Florida is laced with
pipelines and water is allocated by
This section does not tell us under
what conditions DER would approve a
transfer of water from one District to
another. It just lists the questions that
must be considered.


Water is already heavily managed in
Florida, and will be more heavily
managed in the future. Although the
Water Policy calls for an increased em-
phasis on natural systems as the basis
for water management, many water
management structures already exist
such as canals, dams, and dikes, -
and others will be built.
This section of the Water Policy ad-
dresses those "facilities which manage
or store surface waters or...drain,
divert, impound, discharge into, or
otherwise impact waters in the State."
Such facilities, according to the
Water Policy, "shall not be harmful to
water resources" in Florida, and shall
be consistent with the objectives of
DER and the WMDs.
In judging "harm" and "consisten-
cy", DER and the WMDs will have to
take the following into account:
1. The impact of the water manage-
ment facilities on: recreation, naviga-
tion, water quality, fish and wildlife,
wetlands, floodplains, and other en-
vironmentally sensitive lands,
saltwater intrusion, pollution intru-
sion, reasonable-beneficial uses of
water, minimum flows and levels, and
"other factors relating to the public
health, safety, and welfare."

2. Design and performance stan-
dards for the facilities in question.
3. The future operation and
maintenance of the facilities. [That's a
good one: think of abandoned canals
and crumbling dikes.]

4. The possibility of damage to off--
site property caused by floodplain
development, alteration in water flow,
reduction in natural water storage
areas, facility failure, or other actions.

Water Management Districts are
directed by the General Water Policy
section to establish minimum flows
and levels, although and this could
be important no timetable is sug-
In establishing these minimum flows
and levels, WMDs must give con-
sideration to the protection of water
resources, natural seasonal fluctua-
tions, and environmental values
associated with coastal, estuarine,
aquatic, and wetlands ecology.
Those considerations must include:
recreation, fish and wildlife habitats,
estuarine resources, transfer of detrital
material, freshwater storage and sup-
ply, scenic attributes, filtration and ab-
sorption of nutrients and other
pollutants, sediment loads, water
quality, and navigation.


Each WMD is directed by the Water
Policy to prepare a water management
plan which is consistent with the Wa-
ter Resources Act, Chapter 373,
Florida Statutes.
In particular, each district plan shall
address the possibility of a water crisis,
by identifying "specific geographical
areas where water- resources have
reached critical levels."
For each critical area, WMDs must
prepare a course of remedial action,
such as water projects, restoration,
purchase of lands, enforcement of
rules, or actions taken by local govern-
ment in accordance with a local com-
prehensive plan, ordinance, or zoning
WMD plans must also identify areas
that need further study, investigation,
projects, or enforcement of rules to
prevent them from reaching critical

17.40-10 REVIEW AND

At least once every four years, the
Water Policy must be reviewed.
Within one year after adoption (or
revision) of the Water Policy, DER
must review existing rules at DER and
at the WMDs to see whether they are

consistent with the Water Policy.
Now that the Water Policy has been
passed, DER must review all new
WMD rules for consistency with the
Water Policy. When inconsistencies
are found, WMDs must initiate the
notices and hearings necessary to
change the inconsistent rule.
This section of the Water Policy em-
phasizes the point that, due to
regional differences, each Water
Management District will have
somewhat different policies, but they
still must be consistent with the over-
riding Water Policy.
DER and the WMDs must work to
see that the policies of local govern-
ments and other governmental entities
are consistent with the Water Policy
and WMD plans.
DER shall delegate responsibilities to
the WMDs, where appropriate, to
eliminate duplicate permitting for
water quality and quantity.
DER and the WMDs should help
develop research and education pro-
grams to meet Florida's water manage-
ment needs present and future.

(NOTE: The above summary does not
always follow the order of the original
document. All italics have been added
by ENFO to help you find your way
around in the document. The Water
Policy is a legal document; fine distinc-
tions may come to have crucial mean-
ings when the Policy is implemented
and challenged. If you need to make an
important point, use only the original,
official document, not this summary.
The official document may be obtained
from your local Water Management
District, or from the Department of En-
vironmental Regulation, Office of In-
formation, Twin Towers Office
Building, Tallahassee FL 32301.)

Vanishing resource or a treasure to be pro-
tected by the new Water Policy? Only time will
tell. Photo by Fla. Game & Freshwater Fish Comm.

n m ::':::.;;:- :
...... .
x' '

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