New Water Policy Could Plug Holes in Old Management

Material Information

New Water Policy Could Plug Holes in Old Management


Subjects / Keywords:
Water management ( jstor )
Water usage ( jstor )
Water resources ( jstor )
Spatial Coverage:
North America -- United States of America -- Florida


Jake Varn Collection - New Water Policy Could Plug Holes in Old Management (JDV Box 39)
General Note:
Box 29, Folder 8 ( Florida Water Plan - 1995 ), Item 11
Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.

Record Information

Source Institution:
Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Holding Location:
Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


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New water policy could plug

holes in old management plan

SmnUchb Sur

Florida water management has
gone full cycle from how to get
rid of it to how to save it.
Yet, fractured by rivalry among
various agencies competing for
power over the invaluable resource,
the state has been unable to come
up with a unified and comprehen-
sive water policy.
Today the management of water
remains in the hands of uncoordin-
ated jurisdictions that on the one
hand go their own way and on the
other duplicate each other's work.
But Gov. Bob Graham wants to
change that.
Graham has already warned that
Florida can no longer play fast and
loose with water and wants to see
the state adopt a coordinated new
policy on water management.
A new water policy is being
drafted by the Department of Envi-
ronmental Regulation and is tenta-
tively scheduled to be proposed for
adoption as a new regulation in
If the water policy is officially
adopted, it will be one more in a
long line of state environmental
regulations that have become law
since the early 1970s: the Environ-
mental Protection Act of 1971; the
Florida Water Resources Act of
1972; the Environmental Land and
Water Management Act of 1972;
the Comprehensive Planning Act;
constitutional amendments to au-
thorize the purchase of environ-
mentally endangered lands: the En-
vironmental Reorganizational Act
of 1975. and other laws.
"As a result of all this new legis-
lation," said Jake Varn, secretary of
the Department of Environmental
Regulation. "we have resource
management regulatory programs
being administered by the DER, the
Department of Health and Rehabili-
tative Services, the Department of
Natural Resources, the Department
of Community Affairs, water man-
agement districts and regional
planning councils.
"At the same time we've seen a
proliferation of regulatory pro-
grams at the local and federal gov-
ernmental levels. The result is a
cumbersome, complex, time-con-
suming, costly, uncoordinated re-
source management program for
the State of Florida.
"One necessary element of a suc-
cessful resource management pro-
--ram that is currently missing in
Florida is a clear definition of com-
mon goals and objectives," Varn

said. "There is no clear, concise
policy that is common to all of the
resource management programs."
Varn is writing the new state
policy, which will set up guidelines
that Graham hopes will:
Protect natural water manage-
ment systems such as wetlands and
flood plains.
Better define "reasonable
beneficial use," which state law
says water boards must consider
before granting water permits.
Require that permits to drill
wells be restricted to such reason-
able and beneficial use.
Require that beneficiaries pay
for water management works
where appropriate.
Provide for the control and
treatment of storm water runoff.
Varn said each of the water man-
agement districts had proposed dif-
ferent plans without any state di-
rection. The plans "were creatures
of the water management districts.
We were doing it backwards. What
I wanted to do was to first establish
a state policy and let the water
management districts implement

Chuck Littlejohn, Varn's special
assistant, said the original state wa-
ter management plan had been de-
signed for adoption under Florida
statutes as part of the state compre-
hensive plan. But the Legislature
gutted the state comprehensive
plan, making it advisory only, so
the water use plan would have been
The water use plan could have
teeth if adopted by rule, as the law
provides, but it was not in the form
for that process, Littlejohn said. So
Varn decided to take the essential
parts of the water use plan and re-
design it for adoption by rule.
which would give it the force of
Of the South Florida flood pro-
ject, Littlejohn said its purpose is
simply to prevent periodic flooding
caused artificially by control struc-
tures built in the 1950s. He said the
purpose is not to increase drainage.
that environmental warninK~ are
overstated, and that the DER had
taken its current position before
Varn arrived.

Sentinel Star. Sunday. December 21, 1980