Section 369.22, Florida Statutes 2004
369.22 Nonindigenous aquatic plant control.--
(1) This section shall be known as the "Florida Nonindigenous Aquatic Plant Control Act."
(2) For the purpose of this section, the following words and phrases shall have the following meanings:
(a) "Department" means the Department of Environmental Protection.
(b) "Aquatic plant" is any plant growing in, or closely associated with, the aquatic environment and includes "floating," "emersed," "submersed," and "ditch bank" species.
(c) "Nonindigenous aquatic plant" is any aquatic plant that is nonnative to the State of Florida and has certain characteristics, such as massive productivity, choking density, or an obstructive nature, which render it detrimental, obnoxious, or unwanted in a particular location.
(d) A "maintenance program" is a method for the control of nonindigenous aquatic plants in which control techniques are utilized in a coordinated manner on a continuous basis in order to maintain the plant population at the lowest feasible level as determined by the department.
(e) An "eradication program" is a method for the control of nonindigenous aquatic plants in which control techniques are utilized in a coordinated manner in an attempt to kill all the aquatic plants on a permanent basis in a given geographical area.
(f) A "complaint spray program" is a method for the control of nonindigenous aquatic plants in which weeds are allowed to grow unhindered to a given level of undesirability, at which point eradication techniques are applied in an effort to restore the area in question to a relatively low level of infestation.
(g) "Waters" means rivers, streams, lakes, navigable waters and associated tributaries, canals, meandered lakes, enclosed water systems, and any other bodies of water.
(h) "Intercounty waters" means any waters which lie in more than one county or form any part of the boundary between two or more counties, as determined by the department.
(i) "Intracounty waters" means any waters which lie wholly within the boundaries of one county as determined by the department.
(j) "Districts" means the six water management districts created by law and named, respectively, the Northwest Florida Water Management District, the Suwannee River Water Management District, the St. Johns River Water Management District, the Southwest Florida Water Management District, the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control District, and the Ridge and Lower Gulf Coast Water Management District; and on July 1, 1975, shall mean the five water management districts created by chapter 73-190, Laws of Florida, and named, respectively, the Northwest Florida Water Management District, the Suwannee River Water Management District, the St. Johns River Water Management District, the Southwest Florida Water Management District, and the South Florida Water Management District.
(3) The Legislature recognizes that the uncontrolled growth of nonindigenous aquatic plants in the waters of Florida poses a variety of environmental, health, safety, and economic problems. The Legislature acknowledges the responsibility of the state to cope with the uncontrolled and seemingly never-ending growth of nonindigenous aquatic plants in the waters throughout Florida. It is, therefore, the intent of the Legislature that the state policy for the control of nonindigenous aquatic plants in waters of state responsibility be carried out under the general supervision and control of the department, and that the state itself be responsible for the control of such plants in all intercounty waters; but that control of such plants in intracounty waters be the designated responsibility of the appropriate unit of local or county government, special district, authority, or other public body. It is the intent of the Legislature that the control of nonindigenous aquatic plants be carried out primarily by means of maintenance programs, rather than eradication or complaint spray programs, for the purpose of achieving more effective control at a lower long-range cost. It is also the intent of the Legislature that the department guide, review, approve, and coordinate all nonindigenous aquatic plant control programs within each of the water management districts as defined in paragraph (2)(j). It is the intent of the Legislature to account for the costs of nonindigenous aquatic plant maintenance programs by watershed for comparison management purposes.
(4) The department shall supervise and direct all maintenance programs for control of nonindigenous aquatic plants, as provided in this section, excluding the authority to use fish as a biological control agent, so as to protect human health, safety, and recreation and, to the greatest degree practicable, prevent injury to plant, fish, and animal life and to property.
(5) When state funds are involved, or when waters of state responsibility are involved, it is the duty of the department to guide, review, approve, and coordinate the activities of all public bodies, authorities, state agencies, units of local or county government, commissions, districts, and special districts engaged in operations to maintain, control, or eradicate nonindigenous aquatic plants, except for activities involving biological control programs using fish as the control agent. The department may delegate all or part of such functions to any appropriate state agency, special district, unit of local or county government, commission, authority, or other public body. However, special attention shall be given to the keeping of accounting and cost data in order to prepare the annual fiscal report required in subsection (7).
(6) The department may disburse funds to any district, special district, or other local authority for the purpose of operating a maintenance program for controlling nonindigenous aquatic plants and other noxious aquatic plants in the waters of state responsibility upon:
(a) Receipt of satisfactory proof that such district or authority has sufficient funds on hand to match the state funds herein referred to on an equal basis;
(b) Approval by the department of the maintenance control techniques to be used by the district or authority; and
(c) Review and approval of the program of the district or authority by the department to be in conformance with the state maintenance control plan.
(7) The department shall submit an annual report on the status of the nonindigenous aquatic plant maintenance program to the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Governor and Cabinet by January 1 of the following year. This report shall include a statement of the degree of maintenance control achieved by individual nonindigenous aquatic plant species in the intercounty waters of each of the water management districts for the preceding county fiscal year, together with an analysis of the costs of achieving this degree of control. This cost accounting shall include the expenditures by all governmental agencies in the waters of state responsibility. If the level of maintenance control achieved falls short of that which is deemed adequate by the department, then the report shall include an estimate of the additional funding that would have been required to achieve this level of maintenance control. All measures of maintenance program achievement and the related cost shall be presented by water management districts so that comparisons may be made among the water management districts, as well as with the state as a whole.
(8) The department shall have the authority to cooperate with the United States and to enter into such cooperative agreements or commitments as the department may determine necessary to carry out the maintenance, control, or eradication of water hyacinths, alligator weed, and other noxious aquatic plant growths from the waters of the state and to enter into contracts with the United States obligating the state to indemnify and save harmless the United States from any and all claims and liability arising out of the initiation and prosecution of any project undertaken under this section. However, any claim or claims required to be paid under this section shall be paid from money appropriated to the nonindigenous aquatic plant control program.
(9) The department may delegate various nonindigenous aquatic plant control and maintenance functions to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The commission shall, in accepting commitments to engage in nonindigenous aquatic plant control and maintenance activities, be subject to the rules of the department, except that the commission shall regulate, control, and coordinate the use of any fish for aquatic weed control in fresh waters of the state. In addition, the commission shall render technical and other assistance to the department in order to carry out most effectively the purposes of s. 369.20. However, nothing herein shall diminish or impair the regulatory authority of the commission with respect to the powers granted to it by s. 9, Art. IV of the State Constitution.
(10) The department is directed to use biological agents, excluding fish, for the control of nonindigenous aquatic plants.
(11) The department shall adopt rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 to implement the provisions of this section conferring powers or duties upon it and perform any other acts necessary for the proper administration, enforcement, or interpretation of this section, including adopting rules and forms governing reports.
(12) No person or public agency shall control, eradicate, remove, or otherwise alter any nonindigenous aquatic plants in waters of the state unless a permit for such activity has been issued by the department, or unless the activity is in waters expressly exempted by department rule. The department shall develop standards by rule which shall address, at a minimum, chemical, biological, and mechanical control activities; an evaluation of the benefits of such activities to the public; specific criteria recognizing the differences between natural and artificially created waters; and the different amount and quality of littoral vegetation on various waters. Applications for a permit to engage in aquatic plant control activities shall be made to the department. In reviewing such applications, the department shall consider the criteria set forth in subsection (4).
History.--ss. 1, 2, ch. 74-65; s. 4, ch. 80-129; s. 33, ch. 83-218; s. 16, ch. 84-254; s. 2, ch. 89-151; s. 188, ch. 94-356; s. 76, ch. 98-200; s. 92, ch. 99-245.
Note.--Former s. 372.932.