(1) The pollution of the air and waters of this state constitutes a menace to public health and welfare; creates public nuisances; is harmful to wildlife and fish and other aquatic life; and impairs domestic, agricultural, industrial, recreational, and other beneficial uses of air and water.
(2) It is declared to be the public policy of this state to conserve the waters of the state and to protect, maintain, and improve the quality thereof for public water supplies, for the propagation of wildlife and fish and other aquatic life, and for domestic, agricultural, industrial, recreational, and other beneficial uses and to provide that no wastes be discharged into any waters of the state without first being given the degree of treatment necessary to protect the beneficial uses of such water.
(3) It is declared to be the public policy of this state and the purpose of this act to achieve and maintain such levels of air quality as will protect human health and safety and, to the greatest degree practicable, prevent injury to plant and animal life and property, foster the comfort and convenience of the people, promote the economic and social development of this state, and facilitate the enjoyment of the natural attractions of this state. In accordance with the public policy established herein, the Legislature further declares that the citizens of this state should be afforded reasonable protection from the dangers inherent in the release of toxic or otherwise hazardous vapors, gases, or highly volatile liquids into the environment.
(4) It is declared that local and regional air and water pollution control programs are to be supported to the extent practicable as essential instruments to provide for a coordinated statewide program of air and water pollution prevention, abatement, and control for the securing and maintenance of appropriate levels of air and water quality.
(5) It is hereby declared that the prevention, abatement, and control of the pollution of the air and waters of this state are affected with a public interest, and the provisions of this act are enacted in the exercise of the police powers of this state for the purpose of protecting the health, peace, safety, and general welfare of the people of this state.
(6) The Legislature finds and declares that control, regulation, and abatement of the activities which are causing or may cause pollution of the air or water resources in the state and which are or may be detrimental to human, animal, aquatic, or plant life, or to property, or unreasonably interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property be increased to ensure conservation of natural resources; to ensure a continued safe environment; to ensure purity of air and water; to ensure domestic water supplies; to ensure protection and preservation of the public health, safety, welfare, and economic well-being; to ensure and provide for recreational and wildlife needs as the population increases and the economy expands; and to ensure a continuing growth of the economy and industrial development.
(7) The Legislature further finds and declares that:
(a) Compliance with this law will require capital outlays of hundreds of millions of dollars for the installation of machinery, equipment, and facilities for the treatment of industrial wastes which are not productive assets and increased operating expenses to owners without any financial return and should be separately classified for assessment purposes.
(b) Industry should be encouraged to install new machinery, equipment, and facilities as technology in environmental matters advances, thereby improving the quality of the air and waters of the state and benefiting the citizens of the state without pecuniary benefit to the owners of industries; and the Legislature should prescribe methods whereby just valuation may be secured to such owners and exemptions from certain excise taxes should be offered with respect to such installations.
(c) Facilities as herein defined should be classified separately from other real and personal property of any manufacturing or processing plant or installation, as such facilities contribute only to general welfare and health and are assets producing no profit return to owners.
(d) In existing manufacturing or processing plants it is more difficult to obtain satisfactory results in treating industrial wastes than in new plants being now planned or constructed and that with respect to existing plants in many instances it will be necessary to demolish and remove substantial portions thereof and replace the same with new and more modern equipment in order to more effectively treat, eliminate, or reduce the objectionable characteristics of any industrial wastes and that such replacements should be classified and assessed differently from replacements made in the ordinary course of business.
(8) The Legislature further finds and declares that the public health, welfare, and safety may be affected by disease-carrying vectors and pests. The department shall assist all governmental units charged with the control of such vectors and pests. Furthermore, in reviewing applications for permits, the department shall consider the total well-being of the public and shall not consider solely the ambient pollution standards when exercising its powers, if there may be danger of a public health hazard.
(9)(a) The Legislature finds and declares that it is essential to preserve and maintain authorized water depth in the existing navigation channels, port harbors, turning basins, and harbor berths of this state in order to provide for the continued safe navigation of deepwater shipping commerce. The department shall recognize that maintenance of authorized water depths consistent with port master plans developed pursuant to s. 163.3178(2)(k) is an ongoing, continuous, beneficial, and necessary activity that is in the public interest; and it shall develop a regulatory process that shall enable the ports of this state to conduct such activities in an environmentally sound, safe, expeditious, and cost-efficient manner. It is the further intent of the Legislature that the permitting and enforcement of dredging, dredged-material management, and other related activities for Florida’s deepwater ports pursuant to this chapter and chapters 161, 253, and 373 shall be consolidated within the department’s Division of Water Resource Management and, with the concurrence of the affected deepwater port or ports, may be administered by a district office of the department or delegated to an approved local environmental program.
(b) The provisions of paragraph (a) apply only to the port waters, dredged-material management sites, port harbors, navigation channels, turning basins, and harbor berths used for deepwater commercial navigation in the ports of Jacksonville, Tampa, Port Everglades, Miami, Port Canaveral, Ft. Pierce, Palm Beach, Port Manatee, Port St. Joe, Panama City, St. Petersburg, Pensacola, Fernandina, and Key West.
(10) It is the policy of the state to ensure that the existing and potential drinking water resources of the state remain free from harmful quantities of contaminants. The department, as the state water quality protection agency, shall compile, correlate, and disseminate available information on any contaminant which endangers or may endanger existing or potential drinking water resources. It shall also coordinate its regulatory program with the regulatory programs of other agencies to assure adequate protection of the drinking water resources of the state.
(11) It is the intent of the Legislature that water quality standards be reasonably established and applied to take into account the variability occurring in nature. The department shall recognize the statistical variability inherent in sampling and testing procedures that are used to express water quality standards. The department shall also recognize that some deviations from water quality standards occur as the result of natural background conditions. The department shall not consider deviations from water quality standards to be violations when the discharger can demonstrate that the deviations would occur in the absence of any human-induced discharges or alterations to the water body.