An Analysis of the
Laws of Florida
June 1, 1972
The Impact of the Law Upon Water Users
GERAGHTY & MILLER, INC.
CONSULTING GROUND-WATER GEOLOGISTS
SUITE 520 GULF LIFE TOWER
JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA 32207
Water Manzageament District
ST. P. O. BOX 457 BROOKSVILLE, FLORIDA 33512
DERRILL McATEER, Chairman, B.roo.LvR e JOHN A. ANDERSON, Tuu, St. Petnbug THOMAS VAN de VEER, Ynkeown
S. C. BEXLEY. JR., Vic Chuin, L..d O'Lk. HERMAN BEVILLE, Bumhn. BOYCE A. WILLIAMS, Lesug
EDWARD MEDARD, Setay, Tmp. PETER J. NECRL Oca J. MASON WINES, L d
Dale Twachtmann, Executve Dircor
May 18, 1972
Mr. Oliver C. Lewis
Geraghty & Miller, Inc.
Suite 520, Gulf Life Tower
Jacksonville, Florida 32207
Dear Mr. Lewis:
Mr. Parker and I have studied the context of your booklet which is
designed to explain in terms that laymen can understand, House Bill
4060, the Florida Water Resources Act of 1972. This is the act pre-
pared by the House Interim Study Committee on Water Resources Manage-
ment, under the chairmanship of Representative Jack Shreve, and
signed into law by Governor Reuben Askew on April 8, 1972.
In our opinion thisbooklet is a good piece of interpretative writing.
It should enable all persons concerned with water resources development,
use, conservation, control and management to gain a useful concept of
the intent of the bill and of the meaning of its important provisions.
DALE H. TWACHTMANN
GARALD G. PARKER, C.P.G.
FLORIDA STATE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
8057 Expressway / Jacksonville, Florida 32211 / Mailing P.O. Box 8046 / (904) 724-2400
RONALD S. SPENCER, JR.
Euti Va Pkmdwt
May 17, 1972
Mr. Oliver C. Lewis
Geraghty & Miller, Inc.
520 Gulf Life Tower
Jacksonville, Florida 32207
Dear Mr. Lewis:
The new Florida Water Resources Act,
1972, has far-reaching implications for
present, expanding and new water users in
the State of Florida.
I recommend that the water users of
Florida, many of whom are not aware that
they are affected by this statute, give
careful consideration to this analysis.
4*nald S. Spe ner, Jr.
Executive Vice President
WILLIAM B. MILLS LEE A. EVERHART LOUIS BENITO DAVID BLUMBERG
_ _I ____
ANALYSIS- FLORIDA WATER RESOURCES ACT OF 1972
The purpose of this analysis of Chapter 72-299, which is entitled the
"Florida Water Resources Act of 1972," is to provide a guide for the present
users of water, both surface and ground water, as well as to properly inform
the new user and the present user who wishes to expand his water supply.
It is also intended to inform consulting engineers, various planning groups,
city councils, county commissions and others interested in the planning and
management of water supply in the State of Florida.
In order to simplify the analysis, the subjects listed below will not be dis-
cussed herein; instead, the analysis will concentrate only on the provisions of
the Act that we consider most pertinent to the user:
-Definitions except "Reasonable-beneficial use"
-The Formation of a Governing Body (called a Board) in each of the
newly authorized Districts
-Detailed Discussion of the Duties and Powers of the Board
-Administrative Review Procedures
-The Transfer of Powers from one Management District to Another
-Certain Details of the Permitting System
-Proposed State Water Use Plan and State Water Quality Plan
-Provisions for Fees and Penalties
-Reference to the Repeal of Existing Florida Statutes
-Revocation of Permits
Under the Act, every part of the State will fall within the boundaries of
one of five Water Management Districts. These Districts are:
1. The Southwest Florida Water Management District (Now in operation)
2. The Southern Florida Water Management District (The Central and
Southern Florida Flood Control District, offices and personnel will be
the basis for this new District)
3. St. Johns River Basin Water Management District
4. Northwest Florida Water Management District
5. Suwanee River Basin Water Management District
Each Management District will be divided into sections that are hydro-
logically controllable. The State Department of Natural Resources will act
as the supervisory agency over each of the Water Management Districts and
has the power to review actions of the Districts.
Generally speaking, it will be the duty of each District in cooperation with
other interested State and Federal agencies to:
1. Manage water and related land resources.
2. Promote conservation, development, and proper utilization of surface
and ground water.
3. Develop and regulate existing dams, impoundments, reservoirs, and
other works; also construct and operate such works.
4. Provide water storage for beneficial purposes.
5. Prevent damage from flood, soil erosion, and excessive drainage.
6. Preserve natural resources, fish, and wildlife.
7. Promote recreational development.
8. Protect public lands.
9. Assist in maintaining the navigability of rivers and harbors.
10. Issue permits to present users, expanding users, and new users.
11. License well drillers and issue drilling permits.
12. Help the Department of Natural Resources to formulate a State Water
Use Plan and State Water Quality Plan.
13. Contract with public agencies, and private corporations; appoint
agents and employees including specialists and consultants.
14. Make surveys and investigations of water resources of the District.
15. Determine, establish, and control the level of waters to be maintained
in surface-water bodies of all descriptions and to regulate the dis-
charge into or withdrawal from those bodies.
16. Control the level of ground water in an aquifer by controlling with-
drawal and recharge.
17. Issue permits for projects involving artificial recharge into under-
18. Build works to achieve ground water replenishment.
19. Conduct research in the field of weather modification.
PERTINENT PARTS OF THE ACT
The Act consists of six parts, each divided into Sections and Sub-Sections.
The four parts that are of direct concern to the water user are treated sepa-
rately (the parts on Finance and Taxation and on Miscellaneous Provisions
are not covered). Each Section and Sub-Section will be discussed if it falls
within the scope of the analysis. (Sub-Sections are designated by numerals in
Section 2. Declaration of Policy
1. (3) In this Section the Legislature vests in the Department of
Natural Resources the power to accomplish the purpose of
the Act. The Department is empowered to delegate appropri-
ate powers to each of the Water Management Districts. This
Sub-Section recognizes that water resources problems will
vary from region to region both in magnitude and complexity.
Even though problems may be different from one District to
another and from one area in the same District to another, it
is our opinion that the same regulations and policies will
apply to each water user.
2. (5) This Sub-Section defines "reasonable-beneficial use", and in
accordance with the law means "the use of water in such
quantity as is necessary for economic and efficient utiliza-
tion, for a purpose and in a manner which is both reasonable
and consistent with the public interest." The term and its
meaning are necessarily controversial. Whether or not a
specific use falls within the definition is arguable and will
ultimately be settled in the courts if necessary. Incidentally,
many court decisions across the nation have already estab-
lished a broad priority schedule as follows:
a) Public and private utilities serving "people"
Section 4. Scope and Application
3. (3) Each Water Management District has the right of eminent
domain. All other State, local governmental agencies, or pri-
vate utilities having the power of eminent domain must clear
with the Water Management District involved before exer-
cising their power. For example, an electric company, a gas
company or water company must clear with the Water Man-
agement District. Such a routine job as laying a pipeline on
acquired land might have an effect of interest to the District
although not foreseen by the utility.
PART II PERMITTING OF CONSUMPTIVE USE OF WATER
Section 2. Permits Required
1. (1) After the implementation date, the user of existing facilities
has two years in which to apply for a permit to continue to
use water from these facilities. After that time he will not
be allowed to make any withdrawal, diversion, impoundment,
or consumptive use of water without a permit.
Section 3. Conditions for a Permit
2. (1) To obtain a permit the applicant must establish the following:
a) The use is reasonable-beneficial
b) The use will not interfere with any presently existing
legal use of water
c) The use is consistent with public interest
3. (2) The holder of a Use Permit may be authorized to transport
and use water beyond the over-lying land or outside the
watershed, if such transportation is consistent with the public
4. (3) The use of water granted under a permit may be restricted
seasonally, if necessary, for the protection of fish, wildlife,
and the public interest.
Section 4. Existing Uses
5. (1), (2) and (3) This Section elaborates on the first reference
made above under PART II. Present users cannot continue
to use water without a permit except for domestic uses by
individuals who have their own water systems. Within two
years after the implementation date, an application to con-
tinue the present use of water must be made. Failure to apply
within this period shall create a presumptive conclusion of
abandonment of the use.
Section 5. Application for a Permit
6. (1) and (2) The application, aside from requiring the answering
of normal questions such as name and address, will show the
source of water supply, the quantity applied for, the use to be
made of water, the place of use, the location of the point of
diversion, and such other information as the governing Board
may deem necessary. This last statement means that the
present user will have to justify his use and explain his meth-
ods of re-use and the possibility of further re-use. He will be
asked to explain the possibility of recharge and may be re-
quired, as a condition of the permit, to build works to accom-
plish recharge. He will probably be required to present
hydrological data to show that the required diversion does
not exceed replenishment, will not unduly affect other users,
and will not cause salt-water intrusion. As a condition of the
permit, he may be required to meter his use of water and sub-
mit a quarterly report. He may also be required to install
automatic recording instruments to register water levels in
7. (2) This Sub-Section allows for the filing of objections to the
granting of a permit. The objector may be required to pre-
sent hydrological data to show that he will suffer undue inter-
ference. In the absence of an objector, the Water Manage-
ment District itself may represent outside interests and act
as their objector to the granting of a permit, if in their judg-
ment the granting of the permit would cause undue inter-
ference to those other interests, present and future.
8. (3) A permit for a water use of less than 150,000 gallons per
month will be issued without a hearing. A permit for less
than 3,000,000 gallons per month also may be granted with-
out a hearing at the discretion of the Water Management
District if there is no objection to the application.
Section 6. Competing Applications
9. (1) and (2) If there is competition between two or more appli-
cants for an amount of available water that is inadequate for
all applicants, the District shall have the right to issue per-
mits as will best serve the public interest. A renewal appli-
cation shall have preference over an initial application.
Section 7. Duration of Permits
10. (1) and (2) Permits granted to agricultural and industrial ap-
plicants will be granted for a period not exceeding 20 years.
However, the Board reserves the right to issue the permit for
a much shorter period of time depending upon the particular
circumstances, especially those of a hydrological nature sur-
rounding the individual application. In the case of public
water supply systems or public service corporations, the Dis-
trict may authorize a permit not to exceed 50 years.
Section 8. Modification and Renewal of Permit Terms
11. (1) and (2) A permit holder may seek modification of an un-
expired permit. Where the modification involves an increase
in water use of less than 150,000 gallons per month, the in-
crease will probably be granted without a hearing. An appli-
cation for more water than this will undoubtedly require a
hearing, at which time the applicant will provide full justifi-
cation and hydrological data as explained above.
12. (3) Permit renewal applications shall be treated in the same
manner as an initial permit application. This will involve a
hearing and the presentation of up-dated data justifying the
continuance of the use of water.
PART III -REGULATION OF WELLS
Section 2. Scope
1. No person shall construct, repair, or abandon any well with-
out obtaining a permit, except that this does not apply to
equipment used temporarily for dewatering purposes.
Section 4. Prior Permission and Notification
2. (1) No well driller or other person, including the owner or oper-
ator, shall construct, repair, or abandon any water well with-
out a permit. However it appears that a well repair permit
may be obtained quickly, generally in one day by telephone
to be confirmed in writing.
Section 7. Licenses
3. (1) Well drillers shall be licensed.
PART IV MANAGEMENT AND STORAGE OF SURFACE WATERS
Section 3. Headgates, Valves and Measuring Devices
1. (1) The District may require the owner of a dam, impoundment,
reservoir, or appurtenant work to install a headgate or valve
at a point designated by the District to control the amount
of water diverted, and may in addition require the installa-
tion of an acceptable measuring device.
Section 4. Permits for Construction or Alteration
2. (1) Except for normal maintenance, no person shall alter any
dam, reservoir, etc. designed to impound waters exceeding
10 acres in area without a permit. No new construction can
take place without a permit and a public hearing will be held
in relation to the issuance of the permit.
The District may establish limitations on size below which
permits may be issued without a public hearing. The limita-
tions will be for areas smaller than 640 acres.
3. (2) An application to construct or alter a dam or reservoir, etc.
shall contain sketches of construction along with the usual
4. (3) Within 45 days after receipt of an application for a permit
requiring a public hearing, the District will publish a legal
notice at least once a week for two consecutive weeks and
shall set the hearing date no later than 30 days from the
last publication. At the hearing, the applicant may be re-
quired to present full hydrologic and engineering data to
justify his proposed plans.
5. (4) Objectors may appear at hearings and may be required by
the Disrict to present full engineering or hydrological infor-
mation to substantiate their objections.
Section 5. Permits for Maintenance or Operation
6. (1) A permanent permit will be issued to maintain and operate a
dam, reservoir, or other impoundment. A permit passes auto-
matically to a new owner with notification to the Board.
In our judgment, based on our experience with water-management plans
in other parts of the United States and abroad, the Florida Act incorporates
some of the good points of several of those now in use, and in many ways
is patterned after the model that has been in use by the Southwest Florida
Water Management District since 1969. Some of the points derived from
the New Jersey water management plan have put more teeth into the new
Act. It is a good law that will benefit everyone, including the water user, and
that will help bring about badly needed control over the use of the state's
water resources. We conclude that if administered in strict accordance with
the law, the Act will be the toughest water management act in force in the
nation, primarily because it does not cover present users under a blanket
grandfather clause. Present users must, within two years after the implemen-
tation date, apply for a permit to continue to divert water. In so doing, they
must justify the present use. Not only must the water be for a reasonable-
beneficial use but the user must show that he is not diverting water beyond
replenishment, that he is not unduly interfering with other users, and that he
is not causing salt-water intrusion. Public hearings will be held so that this
information can be presented. Objectors may appear with like information to
show contrary effects, and in the absence of an objector, the District may
play the part of objector. All present users wishing to increase the amount of
water they are using and all new users will have to follow the above outlined
The Act calls for the Districts to carry on their own water resources studies
and surveys. However, it has been pointed out to us that this does not relieve
industry, agriculture, public utilities, private utilities, county commissions,
city councils, area planning boards, etc. from performing their own surveys
to give them the answers to such current, pertinent, and pressing problems as:
(a) Conforming to District requirements
(b) Availability of water for present and projected projects
(c) Determination of population density
(d) Preservation of Recharge areas
Impounding reservoirs or ponds used for storage of industrial waste, such
as the gypsum ponds in the phosphate mining area, are not covered by the
Note: This is an analysis of House Bill 4060 passed by the 1972 legislature. Reference to the
Parts of the Act, Sections and Sub-Sections use the same numbering system as in the
House Bill and can be directly compared with them.
OLIVER C. LEWIS
Geraghty & Miller, Inc.