DRAFT of 1/16/95. This is a draft based on discussions during the WMI seminar Jan. 9-
13, 1995. (Paragraph numbers in brackets refer to original recommendations in material
distributed at the seminar.)
Water Management Institute, Inc.
Recommendations To Be Made To
Water Management District Review Commission
1. Propose a Constitutional amendment to equalize the ad valorem tax millage that
may be levied throughout the state for water management purposes.
Propose an amendment to Section 9 of Article VII of the Florida Constitution that will
equalize the maximum ad valorem tax millage that may be levied for water management
purposes in the northwest portion of the state with the maximum tax that may be levied
in the remainder of the state. At present no more that .05 mill may be levied in the
northwest portion of the state. The proposed change should increase the ad valorem tax
millage that may be levied in northwest Florida for water management purposes from .05
mill to 1 mill, the limitation that applies to the remainder of the state. The legislature
still must authorize the maximum ad valorem tax that may be levied by each district
within the constitutional limitation.
2.(5) Revise Section 373.026, Florida Statutes, which sets forth the general
powers and duties of the Department of Environmental Protection relating to the water
management districts to eliminate duplication between DEP and the WMD's and to more
accurately reflect actual duties and responsibilities. Clearly state that duties of DEP are
permissive unless funded.
Many of the powers and duties relating to water management have been delegated to the
water management districts. Other duties which are prescribed as mandatory for the
department have never been funded.
3.(16) Revise the introductory paragraph of Section 373.103, Florida Statutes, to
positively state that the respective water management district governing boards have all
the powers that are specifically innumerated in the section and which have heretofore
been delegated to them.
The powers enumerated in Section 373.103 which may be vested in the respective
governing boards have already been so vested and should be done so by legislative act
rather than at DEP's discretion. Section 373.026(7) should be amended to eliminate dual
authority of DEP and the water management districts by deleting the last sentence that
authorizes DEP to exercise "any power herein authorized to be exercised by a water
4.(7) Revise the prefatory language relating to the water management districts
establishing minimum flows and levels to clearly state that such authority is permissive
and not mandatory.
Change the language in the introductory paragraph of section 373.042 from "the
governing board shall establish" to "the governing board may establish. .. Water
management districts need the authority to be able to set these levels where appropriate
but it should be permissive rather than mandatory.
5.(2) Change the terms of governing board members so that the terms are
staggered in one year increments and that each board will have several members appointed
each year. This will provide greater continuity.
Presently, board members for all five districts are appointed for four-year terms.
Four of the districts have nine members each and Southwest Florida Water Management
District has eleven (11 ?) members. In four of the districts (all except SWFWMD), five
members (a majority) are appointed for four-year terms commencing on March 2 of the
year in which the governor's term commences (1995). The remaining four members of
each of these four districts are appointed two years later on March 2 (1997). See
Sections 373.073 and 373.0735, Florida Statutes.
6.(4) Study the Administrative Procedure Act (chapter 120) and propose changes
specifically for permit procedures before large, collegial boards which meet monthly such
as the water management district boards.
The mandatory time limits, rather than hastening the permitting process tends to prolong
it. In order to toll the time clock, regulators have a tendency to send a "thirty day letter"
requesting additional information.
7.(9) Restrict land acquisition activities by water management districts to lands
necessary for flood control, water storage, water management, preservation of wetlands,
streams and lakes, and for the purpose of introducing water into, or drawing water from,
the underlying aquifer for storage or supply, as authorized in Section 373.139(2) and (4),
Districts are being overloaded with responsibility and should be given direction to limit
land acquisition and land management to property which is specifically needed for water
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8.(9a) Commend the water management districts for the methods and practices that
have been developed for land acquisition but recommend that state agencies be
encouraged to adopt similar methods and practices rather than asking the water
management districts to provide land acquisition services to the state agencies.
9.(9b) Encourage the water management districts acquire less-than-fee interest in
land when flowage easements, conservation easements and development rights and similar
property rights will suffice, rather than taking fee title interest in lands.
9.(9c) Direct water management districts to develop programs which will expedite
use of mitigation banks for wetlands, including designation, where appropriate, of
existing district water resource projects as mitigation banks.
10.(13) Encourage greater utilization of impartial peer review by water management
Water management districts are often pressured to adopt new regulations or to launch new
environmental projects before adequate scientific research and evaluation can be
completed. Some districts are experiencing a shortage of competent, mature, senior
scientists to conduct adequate research and to complete necessary evaluation. There may
be bright, academically educated young staffers, but quite often they lack hands-on
experience and maturity. To offset this shortage or inadequacy, water management
boards should be encouraged to make greater use of a peer review process. This will
help avoid mistakes.
11. Encourage greater use of advisory committees, reporting directly to the respective
Advisory committees have served governing boards quite well in the past where utilized.
Governing boards should be encouraged to make greater use of such committees, but
advisory boards are more effective when they report directly to the respective governing
boards rather than to report through district staff members.
12. Urge greater use of "best management practices" in the permit process but develop
procedural rules and practices that will ensure that due process is utilized when
developing, adopting, applying, and amending "best management practices".
Use of "best management practices" in permit decisions and in lieu of specific permit
language has been quite successful when applied to forestry practices. These BMP's were
developed and sponsored by the industry itself. However, other agricultural activities
may not be as well organized and standards of due process should be established for
developing, adopting, applying, and amending such standards so that, once adopted, they
truly represent the most current and best management practice, and that they do not
hamper efforts to develop even better management practices.
13.(14) Review and revise the TRIM provisions of chapter 200, Florida Statutes,
to provide for a better informed public by authorizing inclusion of explanatory examples
in TRIM notices and advertisements.
As worthy as intentions may be, the TRIM provisions of chapter 200 fall short of
providing for a well-informed public and for more meaningful public participation in the
budgeting and taxing process. Allowing the inclusion of explanatory examples in TRIM
notices and advertisements will help toward better informing the public of proposed
14.(15) Review the additional permitting criteria which have been imposed upon the
water management districts' by passage of the wetland protection and the endangered
species acts. Delete the portions which are not directly related to water management or
transfer sch provisions to more appropriate agencies; make it abundantly clear that the
balancing of interests is most important.
The additional permitting criteria imposed on water management districts by the wetlands
protection and endangered species acts must be kept in proper perspective if the
governing boards are to carry out declared policy as set forth in Section 373.016, Florida
Statutes. These acts should be reviewed carefully and revised where appropriate.
15.(new) Keep "appointive" and opposed to "elective" governing board members.
Water management in Florida requires a careful balance in managing different water
resources. Appointive Board Members can concentrate on managing these water
resources without being unduly swayed by constituent pressure; they can devote more
time to resource management and less to political careers; and the backgrounds of those
being chosen can be more carefully weighed to achieve a balance of views on the board.
A relatively large board of lay citizens, appointed by the governor, with its broad
spectrum of divergent interests, helps to ensure that the board members' opinions will,
in the end, lead to wise decisions and to a just consensus on where the public interest lies
in any given case.
16.(new) Procedural rules to be drafted by Diane Tremor.
Hold the following until another day:
3. Allow governing boards to have discretion as to whether to hold a hearing on an
application for a consumptive use permit before the board or to refer it to a hearing
Repeal subparagraph 120.57(1)(b)14, Florida Statutes, which currently provides that the
water management district shall refer the matter to a hearing officer at the request of the
8. Encourage greater use of the basin system. See Sections 373.0693-373.0698,
Florida Statutes. Consider authorizing district governing boards to delegate its regulatory
authority to basin boards so that regulatory decisions may be made on a lower level of
government, closer to the people.
Amend Section 373.103(8), Florida Statutes, to authorize delegation also to Basin Boards.
17. Add a provision to the Sunshine Law (Section 286.011, Florida Statutes) to make
it clear that individual governing members are not prohibited from speaking to each other
about water management district matters, provided, of course, that all meetings shall be
open to the public.
Board members have difficulty keeping informed and should be allowed to talk freely to
each other. This recommendation should not be construed as an effort to weaken the
Sunshine Law. Rather it is intended to enable individual members of collegial boards to
be better informed.
Note: It was agreed that WMI needs to prepare a white paper on this topic.
6. Specifically prohibit the water management districts from making direct money
grants of funds raised through imposition of ad valorem tax levies.
Several districts are using proceeds from ad valorem taxation to make direct money grants
to local governments for various purposes. In spite of good intent, this practice causes
friction and resentment on the part of recipients and unsuccessful applicants for such
10. Change the audit system to make it easier for governing boards to secure more
meaningful and timely audits.
See Section 373.079(4)(b)1 about hiring internal auditor.