(1) Sections 373.451-373.4595 may be cited as the “Surface Water Improvement and Management Act.” (2) Legislative intent.—The Legislature finds that the water quality of many of the surface waters of the state has been degraded, or is in danger of becoming degraded, and that the natural systems associated with many surface waters have been altered so that these surface waters no longer perform the important functions that they once performed. These functions include:
(a) Providing aesthetic and recreational pleasure for the people of the state;
(b) Providing habitat for native plants, fish, and wildlife, including endangered and threatened species;
(c) Providing safe drinking water to the growing population of the state; and
(d) Attracting visitors and accruing other economic benefits.
(3) The Legislature finds that the declining quality of the state’s surface waters has been detrimental to the public’s right to enjoy these surface waters and that it is the duty of the state, through the state’s agencies and subdivisions, to enhance the environmental and scenic value of surface waters.
(4) The Legislature finds that factors contributing to the decline in the ecological, aesthetic, recreational, and economic value of the state’s surface waters include:
(a) Point and nonpoint source pollution; and
(b) Destruction of the natural systems which purify surface waters and provide habitats.
(5) The Legislature finds that many surface water problems can be and have been corrected and prevented through plans and programs for surface water improvement and management that are developed and implemented by the water management districts, the department, and local governments.
(6) It is therefore the intent of the Legislature that each water management district develop plans and programs for the improvement and management of surface waters within its boundaries.
(7) It is also the intent of the Legislature that the department, the water management districts, and others conduct research to provide a better scientific understanding of the causes and effects of surface water pollution and of the destruction of natural systems in order to improve and manage surface waters and associated natural systems.