(1) Upon application, the secretary may grant a variance from the provisions of this part or the rules adopted pursuant thereto. Variances and renewals thereof may be granted for any one of the following reasons:
(a) There is no practicable means known or available to comply with the provisions of this part or the rules adopted pursuant thereto.
(b) Compliance with a particular requirement or requirements from which a variance is sought will necessitate the taking of measures which must be spread over a considerable period of time. A variance granted for this reason shall prescribe a timetable for the taking of the measures required.
(c) To relieve or prevent hardship, including economic hardship, of a kind other than those provided for in paragraphs (a) and (b).
(d) To accommodate specific phosphate mining, processing or chemical plant uses that otherwise would be inconsistent with the requirements of this part.
(e) To provide for an experimental technique that would advance the knowledge of reclamation and restoration methods.
(f) To accommodate projects, including those proposing offsite mitigation, that provide a significant regional benefit for wildlife and the environment.
(g) To accommodate reclamation that provides water supply development or water resource development not inconsistent with the applicable regional water supply plan approved pursuant to s. 373.709, provided adverse impacts are not caused to the water resources in the basin. A variance may also be granted from the requirements of part IV of chapter 373, or the rules adopted thereunder, when a project provides an improvement in water availability in the basin and does not cause adverse impacts to water resources in the basin.
(2) Consideration of a variance pursuant to this section shall be based on the particular facts and circumstances surrounding each individual request.
(3) The department shall publish a notice of proposed agency action in the Florida Administrative Weekly and in a newspaper of general circulation in the area affected, and the department shall afford an opportunity for a hearing on each application for a variance, pursuant to the provisions of chapter 120. If no request for a hearing is filed with the department within 14 days of publication of the notice, the department may proceed to final agency action without a hearing.
(4) Variances issued pursuant to this section may be for the life of the facility or for such shorter period of time as may be appropriate. Variances issued for a period of 5 years or more shall be reviewed by the secretary at least every 5 years to ensure that the factors justifying the issuance of the variance have not changed so as to make the variance unnecessary.
(5) The department may prescribe appropriate conditions, including time limits, to the granting of a variance.