State of [loriba
OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR
EXECUTIVE ORDER NUMBER 96-297
WHEREAS, Florida has an abundance of water resources and
related natural systems, whose sustainability is vital to the
economic and environmental health of the State, and
WHEREAS, Florida water law is founded on the principles that
water is a state resource that belongs to the public, and'that
water use must be managed both to protect Florida's rivers,
lakes, wetlands, aquifers, and coastal waters and to meet the
water supply needs of the public, and
WHEREAS, in certain areas of the state, withdrawals and
diversions from surface watercourses, aquifers, and surface
waters have caused harm to water resources and related natural
systems, emphasizing the need for adequate funding and prudent
development of water supplies within the context of coordinated
water supply and land use planning, and
WHEREAS, we must adequately inventory, conserve, manage, and
develop our water resources in a manner to ensure their
sustainability and the sustainability of related natural systems,
while meeting the water supply'needs of the public, and
WHEREAS, Chapters 163, 373, 380, and 403, Florida Statutes,
and various other laws, provide authority and direction to
preserve and protect the waters of the state and to plan, manage,
and provide for their proper use consistent with the public
WHEREAS, the Land Use and Water Planning Task Force and the
Water Management District Review Commission provided
recommendations regarding water resources issues, many of which
can be implemented under existing statutory authority, and'
WHEREAS, the Governor has the constitutional duty to
faithfully execute Florida law, and the Water Management
Districts, under the general supervisory authority of the
Department of Environmental Protection pursuant to section
373.026(7), Florida Statutes, serve as trustees of Florida's
publicly owned water resources.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, LAWTON CHILES, Governor of the State of
Florida, by the powers vested in me by the Constitution and laws
of the State of Florida, do hereby promulgate the following
executive order, effective immediately:
To promote the establishment of minimum flows and levels, as
needed, throughout the state, the Department of Environmental
Protection (hereinafter the "Department") is directed to work
with the Water Management Districts (hereinafter the "Districts")
to ensure that by November 15, 1996, and annually thereafter,
each District submits to the Department a priority list and
schedule for the establishment of minimum flows and levels for
surface watercourses, aquifers, and surface waters within the
The initial priority list and the updated priority lists are
to be based upon the importance of the waters to the state or
region and the existence of, or potential for, significant harm
as set forth in section 373.042(1), Florida Statutes.
Special consideration is to be given to establishing minimum
flows and levels for waters within designated water resource
It is expected that the Southwest Florida Water Management
District will include on its initial priority list waters within
the area described in section 373.042(2), Florida Statutes.
The Department shall work with the Districts, providing
technical and staff assistance where possible, to help ensure
that the Districts:
(1) Complete the establishment of minimum flows and levels
for surface watercourses, aquifers, and surface waters on their
initial priority lists by the end of fiscal year 1999, except
that establishment of minimum flows and levels for waters within
the area described in section 373.042(2), Florida Statutes, is to
be completed pursuant to the time requirement in section
373.042(3), Florida Statutes.
(2) Base the establishment of minimum flows and levels on
scientific determinations of the sustainability of water
resources and related natural systems, using the best information
(3) Re-evaluate minimum flows and levels periodically and
revise them when necessary.
(4) Implement minimum flows and levels equitably and
fairly, and in a manner to help ensure the sustainability of
water resources and related natural systems.
(5) Develop consistent methods for establishing and
implementing minimum flows and levels where needed and
practicable, including consistent processes for peer review.
However, peer review for minimum flows and levels for waters
within the area described in section 373.042(2), Florida
Statutes, is to be conducted pursuant to section 373.042(4),
The Department is directed to work with the Districts to
help ensure comprehensive water supply planning by the Districts,
for at least a 20-year planning period, which is done in
coordination with land use planning, which considers other local
and regional water supply plans, which is open to the public, and
which includes broad participation by interested and affected
parties, within the following framework:
(1) By July 1, 1997, one or more water supply planning
regions shall be identified within each District, which singly or
together encompass the entire district, based on surface
watersheds, groundwater basins, and other factors, as
(2) By July 1, 1998, a district-wide water supply
assessment shall be completed which determines for each water
supply planning region, for at least a 20-year planning period:
(a) Existing legal uses, reasonably anticipated future
needs, and existing and reasonably anticipated sources of water
and conservation efforts.
(b) Whether existing and reasonably anticipated sources of
water and conservation efforts are adequate to supply water for
all existing legal uses and reasonably anticipated future needs,
and to sustain the natural systems.
(c) Whether harm to the water resources or related natural
systems has occurred or is reasonably expected to occur, wholly
or partially as a result of water withdrawals.
(3) By October 1, 1998, regional water supply planning shall
be initiated for each region where sources of water are
determined not to be adequate for the planning period to supply
water for all existing legal uses and reasonably anticipated
future needs, and to sustain the natural systems, or where harm
to the water resources or related natural systems has occurred or
is reasonably expected to occur wholly or partially as a result
of water withdrawals, in order to meet the water supply needs of
all existing and future legal uses and the natural systems within
(a) Each regional water supply plan is to be completed
within eighteen months of being initiated, unless a delay is
(b) Each regional water supply plan shall identify water
supply options, including alternative water supplies, which are
environmentally, technically, and economically feasible for the
planning region; a proposed schedule and projected costs for
implementing feasible options; and funding mechanisms.
(c) Each regional water supply plan shall incorporate the
minimum flows and levels that are established within the planning
(4) The district-wide assessments and the regional water
supply plans are to be updated at least every five years.
Additional regional water supply planning is to be init-ited and
completed, as needed pursuant to the guidelines in this section.
(5) Beginning November 15, 1997, and annually thereafter,
the Department will submit to the Office of the Governor and the
Legislature a report on the status of water supply planning in
each District. Working in cooperation with the Districts, the
Department of Community Affairs, and local government, the
Department will include in the report a section on efforts and
accomplishments in coordinating regional water supply planning
and land use planning.
(6) This section is not intended to restrict water supply
planning efforts, but to ensure accountability to the people of
this State and provide a consistent framework within which to
conduct regionally based water'supply planning.
In furtherance of water supply planning pursuant to section
3 of this Executive Order, the Office of the Governor will
develop and conduct a process to investigate and formulate
recommendations on effective means for water supply development
and funding and, as necessary, water supply planning. This
process will be open to the public and will encourage and provide
the opportunity for the voluntary participation of all interested
private interests, levels of government, and members of the
Legislature. For purposes of this executive order, "water supply
development" means the development and distribution of adequate,
safe, and dependable water supplies, including traditional and
alternative supplies, for all existing and projected legal uses,
in a manner which sustains water resources and related natural
(1) In the consideration of local, regional, and statewide
issues and approaches, as appropriate, this process will address:
(a) Mechanisms for water supply development, including the
legal and institutional framework needed for water supply
development, and the assignment of responsibilities.
(b) The relationship of water supply planning and land use
planning to water supply development and funding.
(c) Various funding options for water supply development,
with consideration of new or existing federal, state, regional,
or local government or private sources, joint ventures, grant and
loan programs, water use fees, rate structures, and others.
(d) Existing and potential incentives for, and obstacles
to, development of economically, environmentally, and technically
feasible water supplies, with particular emphasis on water
conservation, alternative water supply development, and the
application of innovative technologies.
(2) This process may include discussion of other related
issues, as appropriate, including relevant recommendations of the
Land Use and Water Planning Task Force and the Water Management
District Review Commission.
(3) The Departments of Environmental Protection and
Community Affairs are directed and the Public Service Commission,
the Office of Public Counsel, and the Water Management Districts
are requested to provide assistance as needed to carry out the
provisions of this section.
(4) By February 1, 1997, the Office of the Governor shall
submit to the Governor and the Legislature appropriate
recommendations, if any, developed through the process conducted
pursuant to this section. This process may be continued beyond
February, 1997, as deemed appropriate, to develop further
The Office of the Governor recognizes the extensive and
diligent work of the Water Management District Review Commission
and commends the Commission for its general support for
maintaining Florida Water Law and for maintaining and improving
Florida's system of water management.
Consistent with the Commission's recommendation regarding
Executive approval of District budgets, the Legislature has
enacted and the Office of the Governor will implement section
373.536(5), Florida Statutes.
Many of the Commission's recommendations which address
improving District operations and programs are consistent with
Florida law and can be implemented under existing statutory
authority. The Department is directed to work with the Districts
to develop a report, to be submitted to the Governor by November
1, 1996, which lists the recommendations of the Water Management
District Review Commission the Department and Districts are
implementing or will implement under their existing statutory
authority, and how they are implementing or will implement the
listed recommendations. The Department will provide copies of
the report to the Legislature and will make copies available to
other interested parties, including local governments.
This executive shall expire five years from the date it
becomes effective unless an extension is required to further the
goals stated herein.
IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have
hereunto set my hand and have
caused the Great Seal of the State
of Florida to be affixed at
T1 ssee, the Capitol, this
d of September, 1996.
SECRETARY OF STATE