(1) The encouragement and promotion of water conservation and reuse of reclaimed water, as defined by the department, are state objectives and considered to be in the public interest. The Legislature finds that the use of reclaimed water provided by domestic wastewater treatment plants permitted and operated under a reuse program approved by the department is environmentally acceptable and not a threat to public health and safety.
(2)(a) For purposes of this section, “uncommitted” means the average amount of reclaimed water produced during the three lowest-flow months minus the amount of reclaimed water that a reclaimed water provider is contractually obligated to provide to a customer or user.
(b) Reclaimed water may be presumed available to a consumptive use permit applicant when a utility exists which provides reclaimed water, which has uncommitted reclaimed water capacity, and which has distribution facilities, which are initially provided by the utility at its cost, to the site of the affected applicant’s proposed use.
(c) A water management district may require the use of reclaimed water in lieu of surface water or groundwater when the use of uncommitted reclaimed water is environmentally, economically, and technically feasible and of such quality and reliability as is necessary to the user. However, this paragraph does not authorize a water management district to require a provider of reclaimed water to redirect reclaimed water from one user to another or to provide uncommitted water to a specific user if such water is anticipated to be used by the provider, or a different user selected by the provider, within a reasonable amount of time.
(d) The South Florida Water Management District shall require the use of reclaimed water made available by the elimination of wastewater ocean outfall discharges as provided for in s. 403.086(9) in lieu of surface water or groundwater when the use of uncommitted reclaimed water is environmentally, economically, and technically feasible and of such quality and reliability as is necessary to the user. Such reclaimed water may also be required in lieu of other alternative sources. In determining whether or not to require such reclaimed water in lieu of other alternative sources, the water management district shall consider existing infrastructure investments in place or obligated to be constructed by an executed contract or similar binding agreement as of July 1, 2011, for the development of other alternative sources. (3) The water management district shall, in consultation with the department, adopt rules to implement this section. Such rules shall include, but not be limited to:
(a) Provisions to permit use of water from other sources in emergency situations or if reclaimed water becomes unavailable, for the duration of the emergency or the unavailability of reclaimed water. These provisions shall also specify the method for establishing the quantity of water to be set aside for use in emergencies or when reclaimed water becomes unavailable. The amount set aside is subject to periodic review and revision. The methodology shall take into account the risk that reclaimed water may not be available in the future, the risk that other sources may be fully allocated to other uses in the future, the nature of the uses served with reclaimed water, the extent to which the applicant intends to rely upon reclaimed water and the extent of economic harm which may result if other sources are not available to replace the reclaimed water. It is the intent of this paragraph to ensure that users of reclaimed water have the same access to ground or surface water and will otherwise be treated in the same manner as other users of the same class not relying on reclaimed water.
(b) A water management district shall not adopt any rule which gives preference to users within any class of use established under s. 373.246 who do not use reclaimed water over users within the same class who use reclaimed water. 1(c) Provisions to require permit applicants to provide, as part of their reclaimed water feasibility evaluation for a nonpotable use, written documentation from a reuse utility addressing the availability of reclaimed water. This requirement shall apply when the applicant’s proposed use is within an area that is or may be served with reclaimed water by a reuse utility within a 5-year horizon, as established by the reuse utility and provided to the district. If the applicable reuse utility fails to respond or does not provide the information required under paragraph (d) within 30 days after receipt of the request, the applicant shall provide to the district a copy of the written request and a statement that the utility failed to provide the requested information. The district is not required to adopt, by rule, the area where written documentation from a reuse utility is required, but the district shall publish the area, and any updates thereto, on the district’s website. This paragraph may not be construed to limit the ability of a district to require the use of reclaimed water or to limit a utility’s ability to plan reclaimed water infrastructure. 1(d) Provisions specifying the content of the documentation required in paragraph (c), including sufficient information regarding the availability and costs associated with the connection to and the use of reclaimed water, to facilitate the permit applicant’s reclaimed water feasibility evaluation.
(4) Reuse utilities and the applicable water management district or districts are encouraged to periodically coordinate and share information concerning the status of reclaimed water distribution system construction, the availability of reclaimed water supplies, and existing consumptive use permits in areas served by the reuse utility.
(5) Nothing in this section shall impair a water management district’s authority to plan for and regulate consumptive uses of water under this chapter.
(6) This section applies to new consumptive use permits and renewals of existing consumptive use permits.