September 6, 2007

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board last week adopted interim rules for water use permits in the Central Florida Coordination Area.

The Coordination Area has limited traditional groundwater supplies that will not be adequate to meet all future demands, necessitating the need to develop alternative water supplies.

The rules are part of the Action Plan that coordinates efforts among the Southwest Florida, South Florida and St. Johns River water management districts to meet the growing water supply needs of a five-county region in Central Florida while also protecting the water and related natural resources. The Coordination Area includes Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Polk counties and southern Lake County.

All three water management districts approved the Action Plan last year. One of the short-term objectives within the plan is to develop regulatory consistency among the water management districts. Since October, the executive directors and staff from all three districts have been working together to develop interim regulatory rules for water use permits.

The interim regulatory rules limit allocations of traditional groundwater supplies to 2013 demands. The rules provide an incentive for permittees to meet future growth beyond 2013 with alternative supplies by offering up to 20-year water use permits for the groundwater quantities. The permittees would be required to develop or work with others in developing alternative water supplies to meet any additional needs after 2013.

The interim regulatory rules also provide consistent definitions, certain exceptions, special permit conditions and a sunset provision.

The three water management districts intend to replace these interim regulatory rules with a long-term regulatory framework before 2013.

The District’s Governing Board authorized staff to publish a Notice of Proposed Rule in the Florida Administrative Weekly to amend the District’s permitting rules to address the water supply issues in the Coordination Area.

Staff will ask the board for final approval of the interim regulatory rules at the October or November Governing Board meeting.

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