(1) The Legislature recognizes that the proper conservation of water is an important means of achieving the economical and efficient utilization of water necessary, in part, to constitute a reasonable-beneficial use. The overall water conservation goal of the state is to prevent and reduce wasteful, uneconomical, impractical, or unreasonable use of water resources. The Legislature finds that the social, economic, and cultural conditions of the state relating to the use of public water supply vary by service area and that public water supply utilities must have the flexibility to tailor water conservation measures to best suit their individual circumstances. The Legislature encourages the use of efficient, effective, and affordable water conservation measures. Where water is provided by a public water supply utility, the Legislature intends that a variety of conservation measures be made available and used to encourage efficient water use. To achieve these conservation objectives, the state should emphasize goal-based, accountable, tailored, and measurable water conservation programs for public water supply. For purposes of this section, the term “public water supply utility” includes both publicly owned and privately owned public water supply utilities that sell potable water on a retail basis to end users.
(2) To implement the findings in subsection (1), the department, in cooperation with the water management districts and other stakeholders, shall develop a comprehensive statewide water conservation program for public water supply. The program should:
(a) Encourage utilities to implement water conservation programs that are economically efficient, effective, affordable, and appropriate;
(b) Allow no reduction in, and increase where possible, utility-specific water conservation effectiveness over current programs;
(c) Be goal-based, accountable, measurable, and implemented collaboratively with water suppliers, water users, and water management agencies;
(d) Include cost and benefit data on individual water conservation practices to assist in tailoring practices to be effective for the unique characteristics of particular utility service areas, focusing upon cost-effective measures;
(e) Use standardized public water supply conservation definitions and standardized quantitative and qualitative performance measures for an overall system of assessing and benchmarking the effectiveness of water conservation programs and practices;
(f) Create a clearinghouse or inventory for water conservation programs and practices available to public water supply utilities which will provide an integrated statewide database for the collection, evaluation, and dissemination of quantitative and qualitative information on public water supply conservation programs and practices and their effectiveness. The clearinghouse or inventory should have technical assistance capabilities to aid in the design, refinement, and implementation of water conservation programs and practices. The clearinghouse or inventory shall also provide for continual assessment of the effectiveness of water conservation programs and practices;
(g) Develop a standardized water conservation planning process for utilities; and
(h) Develop and maintain a Florida-specific water conservation guidance document containing a menu of affordable and effective water conservation practices to assist public water supply utilities in the design and implementation of goal-based, utility-specific water conservation plans tailored for their individual service areas as provided in subsection (4).
(3) Regarding the use of water conservation or drought rate structures as a conservation practice, a water management district shall afford a public water supply utility wide latitude in selecting a rate structure and shall limit its review to whether the utility has provided reasonable assurance that the rate structure contains a schedule of rates designed to promote efficient use of water by providing economic incentives. A water management district shall not fix or revise rates.
(4) As part of an application for a consumptive use permit, a public water supply utility may propose a goal-based water conservation plan that is tailored to its individual circumstances. Progress towards goals must be measurable. If the utility provides reasonable assurance that the plan will achieve effective water conservation at least as well as the water conservation requirements adopted by the appropriate water management district and is otherwise consistent with s. 373.223, the district must approve the plan which shall satisfy water conservation requirements imposed as a condition of obtaining a consumptive use permit. The conservation measures included in an approved goal-based water conservation plan may be reviewed periodically and updated as needed to ensure efficient water use for the duration of the permit. If the plan fails to meet the water conservation goal or goals by the timeframes specified in the permit, the public water supply utility shall revise the plan to address the deficiency or employ the water conservation requirements that would otherwise apply in the absence of an approved goal-based plan.
(5) By December 1, 2005, the department shall submit a written report to the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the appropriate substantive committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives on the progress made in implementing the comprehensive statewide water conservation program for public water supply required by this section. The report must include any statutory changes and funding requests necessary for the continued development and implementation of the program.
(6) The department or a water management district may adopt rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 to carry out the purposes of this section.