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2010 Florida Statutes

SECTION 4137
Mitigation requirements for specified transportation projects.
F.S. 373.4137
373.4137 Mitigation requirements for specified transportation projects.
(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 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 July 1 of each year, the Department of Transportation or a transportation authority established pursuant to chapter 348 or chapter 349 shall submit to the water management districts a copy of its adopted work program and an environmental impact inventory of habitats addressed in the rules adopted 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 environmental impact inventory the habitat impacts of any future transportation project. The Department of Transportation and each transportation authority established pursuant to chapter 348 or chapter 349 may fund any mitigation activities for future projects using current year funds.
(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 development and implementation of the mitigation plan for the projected impacts identified in the environmental impact 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 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 water management districts. Any interest earnings from the escrow account shall remain with the authority.
(c) Except for current mitigation projects in the monitoring and maintenance phase and except as allowed by paragraph (d), the 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 each year with the plan. The conceptual plan preparation costs of each water management district will be paid from mitigation funds associated with the environmental impact inventory for the current year. 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 environmental impact 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. Each quarter, 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 acreage of impacts as permitted. 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 water management districts to carry out the mitigation programs. For a mitigation project that is in the maintenance and monitoring phase, the water management district may request and receive a one-time payment based on the project’s expected future maintenance and monitoring costs. Upon disbursement of the final maintenance and monitoring payment, the escrow account for the project established by the Department of Transportation or the participating transportation authority may be closed. Any interest earned on these disbursed funds shall remain with the water management district and must be used as authorized under this section.
(d) Beginning in the 2005-2006 fiscal year, each water management district shall be paid a lump-sum amount of $75,000 per acre, adjusted as provided under paragraph (c), for federally funded transportation projects that are included on the environmental impact inventory and that have an approved mitigation plan. Beginning in the 2009-2010 fiscal year, each water management district shall be paid a lump-sum amount of $75,000 per acre, adjusted as provided under paragraph (c), for federally funded and nonfederally funded transportation projects that have an approved mitigation plan. All mitigation costs, including, but not limited to, the costs of preparing conceptual plans and the costs of design, construction, staff support, future maintenance, and monitoring the mitigated acres shall be funded through these lump-sum amounts.
(4) Prior to March 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. 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) projects and lands identified for potential acquisition for preservation, restoration or enhancement, and the control of invasive and exotic plants in wetlands and other surface waters, 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 submitted to the water management district governing board, or its designee, for review and approval. At least 14 days prior to 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, in whole or in part, and shall not be subject to this section upon the agreement of the Department of Transportation, or a transportation authority if applicable, 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. The water management district may choose to exclude a project in whole or in part if the district is unable to identify mitigation that would offset impacts of the project.
(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 environmental impact 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 governing board of the water management district or its designee for approval. However, such approval shall not be applicable to a deviation as described in subsection (5).
(7) Upon approval by the governing board of the water management district or its designee, the mitigation plan shall be deemed to satisfy the mitigation requirements under this part for impacts specifically identified in the environmental impact inventory described in subsection (2) and any other mitigation requirements imposed by local, regional, and state agencies for these same impacts. The approval of the governing board of the water management district or its designee 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 environmental impact 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 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; s. 30, ch. 2005-71; s. 12, ch. 2005-281; s. 1, ch. 2009-11.