(1)(a) The encouragement and promotion of water conservation and reuse of reclaimed water, as defined by the department and used in this chapter, are state objectives and considered to be in the public interest. The Legislature finds that the use of reclaimed water provided by domestic wastewater treatment plants permitted and operated under a reuse program approved by the department is environmentally acceptable and not a threat to public health and safety.
(b) The Legislature recognizes that the interest of the state to sustain water resources for the future through the use of reclaimed water must be balanced with the need of reuse utilities to operate and manage reclaimed water systems in accordance with a variety and range of circumstances, including regulatory and financial considerations, which influence the development and operation of reclaimed water systems across the state.
(2) Reclaimed water is an alternative water supply as defined in s. 373.019(1) and is eligible for alternative water supply funding. A contract for state or district funding assistance for the development of reclaimed water as an alternative water supply may include provisions listed under s. 373.707(9). The use of reclaimed water may not be excluded from regional water supply planning under s. 373.709.
(3)(a) Reclaimed water may be presumed available to a consumptive use permit applicant when a utility exists which provides reclaimed water, which has determined that it has uncommitted reclaimed water capacity, and which has distribution facilities, which are initially provided by the utility at its cost, to the site of the affected applicant’s proposed use.
(b) A water management district may not require a permit for the use of reclaimed water. However, when a use includes surface water or groundwater, the permit for such sources may include conditions that govern the use of the permitted sources in relation to the feasibility or use of reclaimed water.
(c) A water management district may require the use of reclaimed water in lieu of all or a portion of a proposed use of surface water or groundwater by an applicant when the use of reclaimed water is available; is environmentally, economically, and technically feasible; and is of such quality and reliability as is necessary to the user. However, a water management district may neither specify any user to whom the reuse utility must provide reclaimed water nor restrict the use of reclaimed water provided by a reuse utility to a customer in a permit or, unless requested by the reuse utility, in a water shortage order or water shortage emergency order.
(d) The South Florida Water Management District shall require the use of reclaimed water made available by the elimination of wastewater ocean outfall discharges as provided for in s. 403.086(9) in lieu of surface water or groundwater when the use of reclaimed water is available; is environmentally, economically, and technically feasible; and is of such quality and reliability as is necessary to the user. Such reclaimed water may also be required in lieu of other alternative sources. In determining whether to require such reclaimed water in lieu of other alternative sources, the water management district shall consider existing infrastructure investments in place or obligated to be constructed by an executed contract or similar binding agreement as of July 1, 2011, for the development of other alternative sources. (4) The water management district shall, in consultation with the department, adopt rules to implement this section. Such rules shall include, but not be limited to:
(a) Provisions to permit use of water from other sources in emergency situations or if reclaimed water becomes unavailable, for the duration of the emergency or the unavailability of reclaimed water. These provisions shall also specify the method for establishing the quantity of water to be set aside for use in emergencies or when reclaimed water becomes unavailable. The amount set aside is subject to periodic review and revision. The methodology shall take into account the risk that reclaimed water may not be available in the future, the risk that other sources may be fully allocated to other uses in the future, the nature of the uses served with reclaimed water, the extent to which the applicant intends to rely upon reclaimed water, and the extent of economic harm which may result if other sources are not available to replace the reclaimed water. It is the intent of this paragraph to ensure that users of reclaimed water have the same access to ground or surface water and will otherwise be treated in the same manner as other users of the same class not relying on reclaimed water.
2(b) Provisions to require permit applicants that are not reuse utilities to provide, as part of their reclaimed water feasibility evaluation for a nonpotable use, written documentation from a reuse utility addressing the availability of reclaimed water. This requirement shall apply when the applicant’s proposed use is within an area that is or may be served with reclaimed water by a reuse utility within a 5-year horizon, as established by the reuse utility and provided to the district. If the applicable reuse utility fails to respond or does not provide the information required under paragraph (c) within 30 days after receipt of the request, the applicant shall provide to the district a copy of the written request and a statement that the utility failed to provide the requested information. The district is not required to adopt, by rule, the area where written documentation from a reuse utility is required, but the district shall publish the area, and any updates thereto, on the district’s website. This paragraph may not be construed to limit the ability of a district to require the use of reclaimed water or to limit a utility’s ability to plan reclaimed water infrastructure. 2(c) Provisions specifying the content of the documentation required in paragraph (b), including sufficient information regarding the availability and costs associated with the connection to and the use of reclaimed water, to facilitate the permit applicant’s reclaimed water feasibility evaluation.
A water management district may not adopt any rule that gives preference to users within any class of use established under s. 373.246 who do not use reclaimed water over users within the same class who use reclaimed water.
(5)(a) No later than October 1, 2012, the department shall initiate rulemaking to adopt revisions to the water resource implementation rule, as defined in 3s. 373.019(23), which shall include:
1. Criteria for the use of a proposed impact offset derived from the use of reclaimed water when a water management district evaluates an application for a consumptive use permit. As used in this subparagraph, the term “impact offset” means the use of reclaimed water to reduce or eliminate a harmful impact that has occurred or would otherwise occur as a result of other surface water or groundwater withdrawals.
2. Criteria for the use of substitution credits where a water management district has adopted rules establishing withdrawal limits from a specified water resource within a defined geographic area. As used in this subparagraph, the term “substitution credit” means the use of reclaimed water to replace all or a portion of an existing permitted use of resource-limited surface water or groundwater, allowing a different user or use to initiate a withdrawal or increase its withdrawal from the same resource-limited surface water or groundwater source provided that the withdrawal creates no net adverse impact on the limited water resource or creates a net positive impact if required by water management district rule as part of a strategy to protect or recover a water resource.
(b) Within 60 days after the final adoption by the department of the revisions to the water resource implementation rule required under paragraph (a), each water management district shall initiate rulemaking to incorporate those revisions by reference into the rules of the district.
(6) Reuse utilities and the applicable water management district or districts are encouraged to periodically coordinate and share information concerning the status of reclaimed water distribution system construction, the availability of reclaimed water supplies, and existing consumptive use permits in areas served by the reuse utility.
(7) This section does not impair or limit the authority of a water management district to plan for and regulate consumptive uses of water under this chapter or regulate the use of surface water or groundwater to supplement a reclaimed water system.
(8) This section applies to applications for new consumptive use permits and renewals and modifications of existing consumptive use permits.
1Note.—Section 3, ch. 2012-150, provides that:
“This act does not:
“(1) Impair or limit the authority of the Department of Environmental Protection to regulate water quality, including reclaimed water, pursuant to chapter 403, Florida Statutes, or to require a reuse feasibility study pursuant to s. 403.064, Florida Statutes.
“(2) Impair or limit the authority of a water management district to conduct regional water supply planning pursuant chapter 373, Florida Statutes.
“(3) Affect any requirement that may be applicable to funding of alternative water supply development, including reclaimed water, pursuant to s. 373.707, Florida Statutes.
“(4) Affect or limit any applicable provisions regarding the setting of rates by public and private water utilities pursuant to chapter 153 or chapter 180, Florida Statutes, or s. 367.081, Florida Statutes.
“(5) Affect or impair the powers of the Governor under the State Constitution; general law, including, but not limited to, chapter 14, Florida Statutes; and police powers of the state to adopt and enforce emergency rules, regulations, and orders.”