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The Florida Statutes

The 2004 Florida Statutes

Title XXVIII
NATURAL RESOURCES; CONSERVATION, RECLAMATION, AND USE
Chapter 373
WATER RESOURCES
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Section 373.4137, Florida Statutes 2004

373.4137  Mitigation requirements.--

(1)  The Legislature finds that environmental mitigation for the impact of transportation projects proposed by the Department of Transportation or a transportation authority established pursuant to chapter 348 or chapter 349 can be more effectively achieved by regional, long-range mitigation planning rather than on a project-by-project basis. It is the intent of the Legislature that mitigation to offset the adverse effects of these transportation projects be funded by the Department of Transportation and be carried out by the Department of Environmental Protection and the water management districts, including the use of mitigation banks established pursuant to this part.

(2)  Environmental impact inventories for transportation projects proposed by the Department of Transportation or a transportation authority established pursuant to chapter 348 or chapter 349 shall be developed as follows:

(a)  By May 1 of each year, the Department of Transportation or a transportation authority established pursuant to chapter 348 or chapter 349 shall submit to the Department of Environmental Protection and the water management districts a copy of its adopted work program and an inventory of habitats addressed in the rules tentatively, pursuant to this part and s. 404 of the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. s. 1344, which may be impacted by its plan of construction for transportation projects in the next 3 years of the tentative work program. The Department of Transportation or a transportation authority established pursuant to chapter 348 or chapter 349 may also include in its inventory the habitat impacts of any future transportation project identified in the tentative work program.

(b)  The environmental impact inventory shall include a description of these habitat impacts, including their location, acreage, and type; state water quality classification of impacted wetlands and other surface waters; any other state or regional designations for these habitats; and a survey of threatened species, endangered species, and species of special concern affected by the proposed project.

(3)(a)  To fund the mitigation plan for the projected impacts identified in the inventory described in subsection (2), the Department of Transportation shall identify funds quarterly in an escrow account within the State Transportation Trust Fund for the environmental mitigation phase of projects budgeted by the Department of Transportation for the current fiscal year. The escrow account shall be maintained by the Department of Transportation for the benefit of the Department of Environmental Protection and the water management districts. Any interest earnings from the escrow account shall remain with the Department of Transportation.

(b)  Each transportation authority established pursuant to chapter 348 or chapter 349 that chooses to participate in this program shall create an escrow account within its financial structure and deposit funds in the account to pay for the environmental mitigation phase of projects budgeted for the current fiscal year. The escrow account shall be maintained by the authority for the benefit of the Department of Environmental Protection and the water management districts. Any interest earnings from the escrow account shall remain with the authority.

(c)  The Department of Environmental Protection or water management districts may request a transfer of funds from an escrow account no sooner than 30 days prior to the date the funds are needed to pay for activities associated with development or implementation of the approved mitigation plan described in subsection (4) for the current fiscal year, including, but not limited to, design, engineering, production, and staff support. Actual conceptual plan preparation costs incurred before plan approval may be submitted to the Department of Transportation or the appropriate transportation authority and the Department of Environmental Protection by November 1 of each year with the plan. The conceptual plan preparation costs of each water management district will be paid based on the amount approved on the mitigation plan and allocated to the current fiscal year projects identified by the water management district. The amount transferred to the escrow accounts each year by the Department of Transportation and participating transportation authorities established pursuant to chapter 348 or chapter 349 shall correspond to a cost per acre of $75,000 multiplied by the projected acres of impact identified in the inventory described in subsection (2). However, the $75,000 cost per acre does not constitute an admission against interest by the state or its subdivisions nor is the cost admissible as evidence of full compensation for any property acquired by eminent domain or through inverse condemnation. Each July 1, the cost per acre shall be adjusted by the percentage change in the average of the Consumer Price Index issued by the United States Department of Labor for the most recent 12-month period ending September 30, compared to the base year average, which is the average for the 12-month period ending September 30, 1996. At the end of each year, the projected acreage of impact shall be reconciled with the acreage of impact of projects as permitted, including permit modifications, pursuant to this part and s. 404 of the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. s. 1344. The subject year's transfer of funds shall be adjusted accordingly to reflect the overtransfer or undertransfer of funds from the preceding year. The Department of Transportation and participating transportation authorities established pursuant to chapter 348 or chapter 349 are authorized to transfer such funds from the escrow accounts to the Department of Environmental Protection and the water management districts to carry out the mitigation programs.

(4)  Prior to December 1 of each year, each water management district, in consultation with the Department of Environmental Protection, the United States Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Transportation, transportation authorities established pursuant to chapter 348 or chapter 349, and other appropriate federal, state, and local governments, and other interested parties, including entities operating mitigation banks, shall develop a plan for the primary purpose of complying with the mitigation requirements adopted pursuant to this part and 33 U.S.C. s. 1344. This plan shall also address significant invasive plant problems within wetlands and other surface waters. In developing such plans, the districts shall utilize sound ecosystem management practices to address significant water resource needs and shall focus on activities of the Department of Environmental Protection and the water management districts, such as surface water improvement and management (SWIM) waterbodies and lands identified for potential acquisition for preservation, restoration, and enhancement, to the extent that such activities comply with the mitigation requirements adopted under this part and 33 U.S.C. s. 1344. In determining the activities to be included in such plans, the districts shall also consider the purchase of credits from public or private mitigation banks permitted under s. 373.4136 and associated federal authorization and shall include such purchase as a part of the mitigation plan when such purchase would offset the impact of the transportation project, provide equal benefits to the water resources than other mitigation options being considered, and provide the most cost-effective mitigation option. The mitigation plan shall be preliminarily approved by the water management district governing board and shall be submitted to the secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection for review and final approval. The preliminary approval by the water management district governing board does not constitute a decision that affects substantial interests as provided by s. 120.569. At least 30 days prior to preliminary approval, the water management district shall provide a copy of the draft mitigation plan to any person who has requested a copy.

(a)  For each transportation project with a funding request for the next fiscal year, the mitigation plan must include a brief explanation of why a mitigation bank was or was not chosen as a mitigation option, including an estimation of identifiable costs of the mitigation bank and nonbank options to the extent practicable.

(b)  Specific projects may be excluded from the mitigation plan and shall not be subject to this section upon the agreement of the Department of Transportation, a transportation authority if applicable, the Department of Environmental Protection, and the appropriate water management district that the inclusion of such projects would hamper the efficiency or timeliness of the mitigation planning and permitting process, or the Department of Environmental Protection and the water management district are unable to identify mitigation that would offset the impacts of the project.

1(c)  Surface water improvement and management or invasive plant control projects undertaken using the $12 million advance transferred from the Department of Transportation to the Department of Environmental Protection in fiscal year 1996-1997 which meet the requirements for mitigation under this part and 33 U.S.C. s. 1344 shall remain available for mitigation until the $12 million is fully credited up to and including fiscal year 2005-2006. When these projects are used as mitigation, the $12 million advance shall be reduced by $75,000 per acre of impact mitigated. For any fiscal year through and including fiscal year 2005-2006, to the extent the cost of developing and implementing the mitigation plans is less than the amount transferred pursuant to subsection (3), the difference shall be credited towards the $12 million advance. Except as provided in this paragraph, any funds not directed to implement the mitigation plan should, to the greatest extent possible, be directed to fund invasive plant control within wetlands and other surface waters.

(5)  The water management district shall be responsible for ensuring that mitigation requirements pursuant to 33 U.S.C. s. 1344 are met for the impacts identified in the inventory described in subsection (2), by implementation of the approved plan described in subsection (4) to the extent funding is provided by the Department of Transportation, or a transportation authority established pursuant to chapter 348 or chapter 349, if applicable. During the federal permitting process, the water management district may deviate from the approved mitigation plan in order to comply with federal permitting requirements.

(6)  The mitigation plans shall be updated annually to reflect the most current Department of Transportation work program and project list of a transportation authority established pursuant to chapter 348 or chapter 349, if applicable, and may be amended throughout the year to anticipate schedule changes or additional projects which may arise. Each update and amendment of the mitigation plan shall be submitted to the secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection for approval. However, such approval shall not be applicable to a deviation as described in subsection (5).

(7)  Upon approval by the secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, the mitigation plan shall be deemed to satisfy the mitigation requirements under this part and any other mitigation requirements imposed by local, regional, and state agencies for impacts identified in the inventory described in subsection (2). The approval of the secretary shall authorize the activities proposed in the mitigation plan, and no other state, regional, or local permit or approval shall be necessary.

(8)  This section shall not be construed to eliminate the need for the Department of Transportation or a transportation authority established pursuant to chapter 348 or chapter 349 to comply with the requirement to implement practicable design modifications, including realignment of transportation projects, to reduce or eliminate the impacts of its transportation projects on wetlands and other surface waters as required by rules adopted pursuant to this part, or to diminish the authority under this part to regulate other impacts, including water quantity or water quality impacts, or impacts regulated under this part that are not identified in the inventory described in subsection (2).

(9)  The process for environmental mitigation for the impact of transportation projects under this section shall be available to an expressway, bridge, or transportation authority established under chapter 348 or chapter 349. Use of this process may be initiated by an authority depositing the requisite funds into an escrow account set up by the authority and filing an environmental impact inventory with the appropriate water management district. An authority that initiates the environmental mitigation process established by this section shall comply with subsection (6) by timely providing the appropriate water management district and the Department of Environmental Protection with the requisite work program information. A water management district may draw down funds from the escrow account as provided in this section.

History.--s. 1, ch. 96-238; s. 36, ch. 99-385; s. 1, ch. 2000-261; s. 93, ch. 2002-20; s. 39, ch. 2004-269.

1Note.--

A.  Section 39, ch. 2004-269, amended paragraph (4)(c) "[i]n order to implement Specific Appropriations 1677-1703 of the 2004-2005 General Appropriations Act." Some proviso language relating to this appropriation was vetoed. See ch. 2004-268, the 2004-2005 General Appropriations Act.

B.  Section 75, ch. 2004-269, provides that "[a] section of this act that implements a specific appropriation or specifically identified proviso language in the 2004-2005 General Appropriations Act is void if the specific appropriation or specifically identified proviso language is vetoed. A section of this act that implements more than one specific appropriation or more than one portion of specifically identified proviso language in the 2004-2005 General Appropriations Act is void if all the specific appropriations or portions of specifically identified proviso language are vetoed." Not all portions of specifically identified proviso language relating to the amendment of s. 373.4137(4)(c) were vetoed.


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