Natural Resources/Florida Forever (Watch)

Natural Resources/Florida Forever (Watch)

CS/HB 7063 (formerly GAC PCB 18-02) (Government Accountability Committee) substantially revises current state law provisions addressing the Florida Forever Program funding allocations and policies, and adds new requirements for public water supply, public waste water treatment facilities, and Department of Transportation responsibilities with respect to storm water. The bill consolidates existing statutory allocations under the Florida Forever Program from nine categories into three main categories: land acquisition, Florida Communities Trust, and the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program. Each of the three categories would receive 33 1/3 percent of the funding received by the Florida Forever Program. The bill removes existing statutory authority for Florida Forever proceeds to be used for capital improvement projects, water resource development projects and land management. It requires municipalities, counties and water management districts to remit proceeds from the sale of conservation lands acquired with state funds back to the state. The bill requires increasing amounts of annual dedicated funding for Florida Forever from the state Land Acquisition Trust Fund (LATF). It prioritizes Phase I and Phase II of the C-43 Reservoir for Everglades project funding from the LATF. Specified local governments within rural areas of economic concern are exempt from statutory requirements to develop water facilities work plans. The bill requires the Department of Transportation to coordinate with local governments and state agencies to redirect storm water from road projects for beneficial reuse, if feasible. The bill requires public water systems and domestic wastewater systems to develop an asset management plan (AMP) in accordance with Environmental Protection Agency guidelines. To be eligible for state funding, a public water or wastewater utility must demonstrate that it is implementing its AMP and the AMP adequately addresses long-term funding strategies for maintaining assets to meet required levels of service and long-term system needs. Finally, the bill requires that a public water or wastewater system with infrastructure within an identified special flood hazard area build any new infrastructure to withstand specified flood conditions. (O’Hara)