Section 373.1961, Florida Statutes 2004
373.1961 Water production.--
(1) In the performance of, and in conjunction with, its other powers and duties, the governing board of a water management district existing pursuant to this chapter:
(a) Shall engage in planning to assist counties, municipalities, private utilities, or regional water supply authorities in meeting water supply needs in such manner as will give priority to encouraging conservation and reducing adverse environmental effects of improper or excessive withdrawals of water from concentrated areas. As used in this section, regional water supply authorities are regional water authorities created under s. 373.1962 or other laws of this state.
(b) Shall assist counties, municipalities, private utilities, or water supply authorities in meeting water supply needs in such manner as will give priority to encouraging conservation and reducing adverse environmental effects of improper or excessive withdrawals of water from concentrated areas.
(c) May establish, design, construct, operate, and maintain water production and transmission facilities for the purpose of supplying water to counties, municipalities, private utilities, or regional water supply authorities. The permit required by part II of this chapter for a water management district engaged in water production and transmission shall be granted, denied, or granted with conditions by the department.
(d) Shall not engage in local distribution.
(e) Shall not deprive, directly or indirectly, any county wherein water is withdrawn of the prior right to the reasonable and beneficial use of water which is required to supply adequately the reasonable and beneficial needs of the county or any of the inhabitants or property owners therein.
(f) May provide water and financial assistance to regional water supply authorities, but may not provide water to counties and municipalities which are located within the area of such authority without the specific approval of the authority or, in the event of the authority's disapproval, the approval of the Governor and Cabinet sitting as the Land and Water Adjudicatory Commission. The district may supply water at rates and upon terms mutually agreed to by the parties or, if they do not agree, as set by the governing board and specifically approved by the Governor and Cabinet sitting as the Land and Water Adjudicatory Commission.
(g) May acquire title to such interest as is necessary in real property, by purchase, gift, devise, lease, eminent domain, or otherwise, for water production and transmission consistent with this section. However, the district shall not use any of the eminent domain powers herein granted to acquire water and water rights already devoted to reasonable and beneficial use or any water production or transmission facilities owned by any county, municipality, or regional water supply authority. The district may exercise eminent domain powers outside of its district boundaries for the acquisition of pumpage facilities, storage areas, transmission facilities, and the normal appurtenances thereto, provided that at least 45 days prior to the exercise of eminent domain, the district notifies the district where the property is located after public notice and the district where the property is located does not object within 45 days after notification of such exercise of eminent domain authority.
(h) In addition to the power to issue revenue bonds pursuant to s. 373.584, may issue revenue bonds for the purposes of paying the costs and expenses incurred in carrying out the purposes of this chapter or refunding obligations of the district issued pursuant to this section. Such revenue bonds shall be secured by, and be payable from, revenues derived from the operation, lease, or use of its water production and transmission facilities and other water-related facilities and from the sale of water or services relating thereto. Such revenue bonds may not be secured by, or be payable from, moneys derived by the district from the Water Management Lands Trust Fund or from ad valorem taxes received by the district. All provisions of s. 373.584 relating to the issuance of revenue bonds which are not inconsistent with this section shall apply to the issuance of revenue bonds pursuant to this section. The district may also issue bond anticipation notes in accordance with the provisions of s. 373.584.
(i) May join with one or more other water management districts, counties, municipalities, private utilities, or regional water supply authorities for the purpose of carrying out any of its powers, and may contract with such other entities to finance acquisitions, construction, operation, and maintenance. The contract may provide for contributions to be made by each party thereto, for the division and apportionment of the expenses of acquisitions, construction, operation, and maintenance, and for the division and apportionment of the benefits, services, and products therefrom. The contracts may contain other covenants and agreements necessary and appropriate to accomplish their purposes.
(2) The Legislature finds that, due to a combination of factors, vastly increased demands have been placed on natural supplies of fresh water, and that, absent increased development of alternative water supplies, such demands may increase in the future. The Legislature also finds that potential exists in the state for the production of significant quantities of alternative water supplies, including reclaimed water, and that water production includes the development of alternative water supplies, including reclaimed water, for appropriate uses. It is the intent of the Legislature that utilities develop reclaimed water systems, where reclaimed water is the most appropriate alternative water supply option, to deliver reclaimed water to as many users as possible through the most cost-effective means, and to construct reclaimed water system infrastructure to their owned or operated properties and facilities where they have reclamation capability. It is also the intent of the Legislature that the water management districts which levy ad valorem taxes for water management purposes should share a percentage of those tax revenues with water providers and users, including local governments, water, wastewater, and reuse utilities, municipal, industrial, and agricultural water users, and other public and private water users, to be used to supplement other funding sources in the development of alternative water supplies. The Legislature finds that public moneys or services provided to private entities for such uses constitute public purposes which are in the public interest. In order to further the development and use of alternative water supply systems, including reclaimed water systems, the Legislature provides the following:
(a) The governing boards of the water management districts where water resource caution areas have been designated shall include in their annual budgets an amount for the development of alternative water supply systems, including reclaimed water systems, pursuant to the requirements of this subsection. Beginning in 1996, such amounts shall be made available to water providers and users no later than December 31 of each year, through grants, matching grants, revolving loans, or the use of district lands or facilities pursuant to the requirements of this subsection and guidelines established by the districts. In making grants or loans, funding priority must be given to projects in accordance with s. 373.0831(4). Without diminishing amounts available through other means described in this paragraph, the governing boards are encouraged to consider establishing revolving loan funds to expand the total funds available to accomplish the objectives of this section. A revolving loan fund created under this paragraph must be a nonlapsing fund from which the water management district may make loans with interest rates below prevailing market rates to public or private entities for the purposes described in this section. The governing board may adopt resolutions to establish revolving loan funds which must specify the details of the administration of the fund, the procedures for applying for loans from the fund, the criteria for awarding loans from the fund, the initial capitalization of the fund, and the goals for future capitalization of the fund in subsequent budget years. Revolving loan funds created under this paragraph must be used to expand the total sums and sources of cooperative funding available for the development of alternative water supplies. The Legislature does not intend for the creation of revolving loan funds to supplant or otherwise reduce existing sources or amounts of funds currently available through other means.
(b) It is the intent of the Legislature that for each reclaimed water utility, or any other utility, which receives funds pursuant to this subsection, the appropriate rate-setting authorities should develop rate structures for all water, wastewater, and reclaimed water and other alternative water supply utilities in the service area of the funded utility, which accomplish the following:
1. Provide meaningful progress toward the development and implementation of alternative water supply systems, including reclaimed water systems;
2. Promote the conservation of fresh water withdrawn from natural systems;
3. Provide for an appropriate distribution of costs for all water, wastewater, and alternative water supply utilities, including reclaimed water utilities, among all of the users of those utilities; and
4. Prohibit rate discrimination within classes of utility users.
(c) Funding assistance provided by the water management districts for a water reuse system project may include the following grant or loan conditions for that project if the water management district determines that such conditions will encourage water use efficiency:
1. Metering of reclaimed water use for the following activities: residential irrigation, agricultural irrigation, industrial uses except for electric utilities as defined in s. 366.02(2), landscape irrigation, irrigation of other public access areas, commercial and institutional uses such as toilet flushing, and transfers to other reclaimed water utilities.
2. Implementation of reclaimed water rate structures based on actual use of reclaimed water for the types of reuse activities listed in subparagraph 1.
3. Implementation of education programs to inform the public about water issues, water conservation, and the importance and proper use of reclaimed water.
4. Development of location data for key reuse facilities.
(d) In order to be eligible for funding pursuant to this subsection, a project must be consistent with a local government comprehensive plan and the governing body of the local government must require all appropriate new facilities within the project's service area to connect to and use the project's alternative water supplies. The appropriate local government must provide written notification to the appropriate district that the proposed project is consistent with the local government comprehensive plan.
(e) Any and all revenues disbursed pursuant to this subsection shall be applied only for the payment of capital or infrastructure costs for the construction of alternative water supply systems that provide alternative water supplies.
(f) By January 1 of each year, the governing boards shall make available written guidelines for the disbursal of revenues pursuant to this subsection. Such guidelines shall include at minimum:
1. An application process and a deadline for filing applications annually.
2. A process for determining project eligibility pursuant to the requirements of paragraphs (d) and (e).
3. A process and criteria for funding projects pursuant to this subsection that cross district boundaries or that serve more than one district.
(g) The governing board of each water management district shall establish an alternative water supplies grants advisory committee to recommend to the governing board projects for funding pursuant to this subsection. The advisory committee members shall include, but not be limited to, one or more representatives of county, municipal, and investor-owned private utilities, and may include, but not be limited to, representatives of agricultural interests and environmental interests. Each committee member shall represent his or her interest group as a whole and shall not represent any specific entity. The committee shall apply the guidelines and project eligibility criteria established by the governing board in reviewing proposed projects. After one or more hearings to solicit public input on eligible projects, the committee shall rank the eligible projects and shall submit them to the governing board for final funding approval. The advisory committee may submit to the governing board more projects than the available grant money would fund.
(h) All revenues made available annually pursuant to this subsection must be encumbered annually by the governing board if it approves projects sufficient to expend the available revenues. Funds must be disbursed within 36 months after encumbrance.
(i) For purposes of this subsection, alternative water supplies are supplies of water that have been reclaimed after one or more public supply, municipal, industrial, commercial, or agricultural uses, or are supplies of stormwater, or brackish or salt water, that have been treated in accordance with applicable rules and standards sufficient to supply the intended use.
(j) This subsection shall not be subject to the rulemaking requirements of chapter 120.
(k) By January 30 of each year, each water management district shall submit an annual report to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives which accounts for the disbursal of all budgeted amounts pursuant to this subsection. Such report shall describe all projects funded and shall account separately for moneys provided through grants, matching grants, revolving loans, and the use of district lands or facilities.
(l) The Florida Public Service Commission shall allow entities under its jurisdiction constructing alternative water supply facilities, including but not limited to aquifer storage and recovery wells, to recover the full, prudently incurred cost of such facilities through their rate structure. Every component of an alternative water supply facility constructed by an investor-owned utility shall be recovered in current rates.
History.--s. 2, ch. 74-114; s. 14, ch. 76-243; s. 7, ch. 82-101; s. 2, ch. 87-347; s. 7, ch. 95-323; s. 1, ch. 2001-256; s. 40, ch. 2002-296; s. 11, ch. 2004-381.