Surface Water Improvement and Management
Goal: Restore and/or conserve the quality of surface water
bodies in Florida
After last year's (86) legislative session, the House Natural
Resources Committee began touring different areas of the State
which they heard had surface water problems: Lake Okeechobee.
Lake Apopka and Tampa Bay.
At the same time, the Senate Natural Resources Staff was
preparing a bill aimed at assisting in the cleanup of lakes
based on what had been learned in the previous years about Lakes
Okeechobee and Apopka.
After Governor Martinez took office, he personally toured Lakes
Okeechobee and Apopka and agreed to help provide assistance in
their cleanup. This all set the stage for the SWIM bill.
However, major disagreements occurred mainly over how much money
was to be available this year. who was in charge of determining
what projects were to be implemented and who was in charge of
the money. The original House version of the bill was over 90
pages long and had over $35 million in appropriations. The
original Senate version was roughly 10 pages and under $10
The actual surface water part of the SWIM Bill that passed is 22
pages long and makes $15 million available for FY 87-88.
The control of the projects and the money was placed clearly in
the hands of the water management districts and the Department
of Environmental Regulation. Almost all of the mandated
committees were eliminated from the bill. Only one advisory
council was mandated in the final version; the Lake Okeechobee
Technical Advisory Committee. The establishment of any other
advisory council was left to the discretion of the WMD's
although these councils were are encouraged.
In addition to their water quantity authority, the SWIM Act
thrust the WMD's into new territories including a clear
responsibility for surface water quality and salt water
HOW WILL IT WORK:
By March 1. 1988, the WMD's in cooperation with the other
agencies are to prepare lists of water bodies which have
the greatest priority for protection or restoration based
on criteria adopted by DER. Considerations for DER
criteria are provided in the bill as was about $500K for
the MMDs to accomplish this task. The bill established the
initial surface water priorities for the HMD's and also
provided funding. Tampa Bay ($2.0 million). Lake
Okeechobee ($4.8 million). Lake Apopka ($2.2 million),
Biscayne Bay ($2.0 million). Lower St. Johns River Duval
area ($2.5 million) and Indian River Lagoon ($1.5 million).
A state agency review process as well as a public workshop
process is established in the bill for the priority lists
and actual program approval. After a WMD adopts its
priority list and/or program, and the program and fund
release is approved by the Department, the state agencies
must review their rules to determine where they should be
strengthened and report back to the Governor and
Legislature. MMD Plans are to be updated annually.
The SWIM Trust Fund was established.
DER is to administer the fund only for priority surface
waters. WMD's may not receive more than 80% of the cost of
their approved programs. After September, 1988. no WMD may
receive more than 30% of the money in the Fund, except as
specifically authorized in the SWIM Bill. SWIM funds
cannot be used to construct domestic or industrial
wastewater treatment facilities.
Other items covered in the SWIM bill.
The SWIM bill gave a little more specific charge in the
Lake Okeechobee area and continued an already existing
program for Lake Apopka.
Some minor changes were made to the MOD ad valorem millage
structure to help accomplish the SWIM tasks.
And finally, the bill requires the Department to study and
review the state surface water classification system and
report by March 1. 1989 to the Governor. Speaker of the
House. and President of the Senate.
THE SWIM BILL DID NOT
1. Mandate specific projects for each water body.-althonbh
projects for consideration are listed, the final
jurisdiction lies with the WMD Governing Boards and DER
2. The fund is not a pass through to other agencies.
governmental bodies, etc. Any project must have the
specific approval of the WMD Governing Board. However, the
Governing Board may contract the work to any other agency.
local government, etc.