(1) The purpose of this section is to assist in implementing the legislative declarations of public policy contained in ss. 403.021 and 403.851 by establishing infrastructure financing, technical assistance, and source water protection programs to assist public drinking water systems in achieving and maintaining compliance with the Florida Safe Drinking Water Act and the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, as amended, and to conserve and protect the quality of waters of the state. (2) For purposes of this section, the term: (a) “Bonds” means bonds, certificates, or other obligations of indebtedness issued by the corporation under this section and s. 403.1837. (b) “Corporation” means the Florida Water Pollution Control Financing Corporation created pursuant to s. 403.1837.
(c) “Financially disadvantaged community” means the service area of a project to be served by a public water system that meets criteria established by department rule and in accordance with federal guidance.
(d) “Local governmental agency” means any municipality, county, district, or authority, or any agency thereof, or a combination of two or more of the foregoing acting jointly in connection with a project, having jurisdiction over a public water system.
(e) “Public water system” means all facilities, including land, necessary for the treatment and distribution of water for human consumption and includes public water systems as defined in s. 403.852 and as otherwise defined in the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, as amended. Such systems may be publicly owned, privately owned, investor-owned, or cooperatively held.
(f) “Small public water system” means a public water system that regularly serves fewer than 10,000 people.
(3) The department may make, or request that the corporation make, loans, grants, and deposits to community water systems, nonprofit transient noncommunity water systems, and nonprofit nontransient noncommunity water systems to assist them in planning, designing, and constructing public water systems, unless such public water systems are for-profit privately owned or investor-owned systems that regularly serve 1,500 service connections or more within a single certified or franchised area. However, a for-profit privately owned or investor-owned public water system that regularly serves 1,500 service connections or more within a single certified or franchised area may qualify for a loan only if the proposed project will result in the consolidation of two or more public water systems. The department may provide loan guarantees, purchase loan insurance, and refinance local debt through the issue of new loans for projects approved by the department. Public water systems may borrow funds made available pursuant to this section and may pledge any revenues or other adequate security available to them to repay any funds borrowed. (a) The department shall administer loans so that amounts credited to the Drinking Water Revolving Loan Trust Fund in any fiscal year are reserved for the following purposes:
1. At least 15 percent for qualifying small public water systems.
2. Up to 15 percent for qualifying financially disadvantaged communities.
(b) If an insufficient number of the projects for which funds are reserved under this subsection have been submitted to the department at the time the funding priority list authorized under this section is adopted, the reservation of these funds no longer applies. The department may award the unreserved funds as otherwise provided in this section.
(4) The department is authorized, subject to legislative appropriation authority and authorization of positions, to use funds from the annual capitalization grant for activities authorized under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, as amended, such as:
(a) Program administration.
(b) Technical assistance.
(c) Source water protection program development and implementation, including wellhead and aquifer protection programs, programs to alleviate water quality and water supply problems associated with saltwater intrusion, programs to identify, monitor, and assess source waters, and contaminant source inventories.
(d) Capacity development and financial assessment program development and administration.
(e) The costs of establishing and administering an operator certification program for drinking water treatment plant operators, to the extent such costs cannot be paid for from fees.
This subsection does not limit the department’s ability to apply for and receive other funds made available for specific purposes under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, as amended.
(5) The term of loans made pursuant to this section shall not exceed 30 years. The interest rate on such loans shall be no greater than that paid on the last bonds sold pursuant to s. 14, Art. VII of the State Constitution.
(6)(a) The department may provide financial assistance to financially disadvantaged communities for the purpose of planning, designing, and constructing public water systems. Such assistance may include the forgiveness of loan principal.
(b) The department shall establish by rule the criteria for determining whether a public water system serves a financially disadvantaged community. Such criteria shall be based on the median household income of the service population or other reliably documented measures of disadvantaged status.
(7) To the extent not allowed by federal law, the department shall not provide financial assistance for projects primarily intended to serve future growth.
(8) In order to ensure that public moneys are managed in an equitable, prudent, and cost-effective manner, the total amount of money loaned to any public water system during a fiscal year shall be no more than 25 percent of the total funds available for making loans during that year. The minimum amount of a loan shall be $75,000.
(9) The department may adopt rules regarding the procedural and contractual relationship between the department and the corporation under s. 403.1837 and to carry out the purposes of this section and the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, as amended. Such rules shall: (a) Set forth a priority system for loans based on public health considerations, compliance with state and federal requirements relating to public drinking water systems, and affordability. The priority system shall give special consideration to:
1. Projects that provide for the development of alternative drinking water supply projects and management techniques in areas where existing source waters are limited or threatened by saltwater intrusion, excessive drawdowns, contamination, or other problems;
2. Projects that provide for a dependable, sustainable supply of drinking water and that are not otherwise financially feasible; and
3. Projects that contribute to the sustainability of regional water sources.
(b) Establish the requirements for the award and repayment of financial assistance.
(c) Require evidence of credit worthiness and adequate security, including an identification of revenues to be pledged, and documentation of their sufficiency for loan repayment and pledged revenue coverage, to ensure that each loan recipient can meet its loan repayment requirements.
(d) Require each project receiving financial assistance to be cost-effective, environmentally sound, implementable, and self-supporting.
(e) Implement other provisions of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, as amended.
(10) The department shall prepare a report at the end of each fiscal year, detailing the financial assistance provided under this section, service fees collected, interest earned, and loans outstanding.
(11) Prior to approval of a loan, the local government or public water system shall, at a minimum:
(a) Provide a repayment schedule.
(b) Submit evidence of the permittability or implementability of the project proposed for financial assistance.
(c) Submit plans and specifications, biddable contract documents, or other documentation of appropriate procurement of goods and services.
(d) Provide assurance that records will be kept using generally accepted accounting principles and that the department or its agents and the Auditor General will have access to all records pertaining to the loan.
(e) Provide assurance that the public water system will be properly operated and maintained in order to achieve or maintain compliance with the requirements of the Florida Safe Drinking Water Act and the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, as amended.
(f) Document that the public water system will be self-supporting.
(12) The department may conduct an audit of the loan project upon completion, or may require that a separate project audit, prepared by an independent certified public accountant, be submitted.
(13) The department may require reasonable service fees on loans made to public water systems to ensure that the Drinking Water Revolving Loan Trust Fund will be operated in perpetuity and to implement the purposes authorized under this section. Service fees shall not be less than 2 percent nor greater than 4 percent of the loan amount exclusive of the service fee. Service fee revenues shall be deposited into the department’s Grants and Donations Trust Fund. The fee revenues, and interest earnings thereon, shall be used exclusively to carry out the purposes of this section.
(14) The Drinking Water Revolving Loan Trust Fund established under s. 403.8533 shall be used exclusively to carry out the purposes of this section. Any funds that are not needed on an immediate basis for financial assistance shall be invested pursuant to s. 215.49. State revolving fund capitalization grants awarded by the Federal Government, state matching funds, and investment earnings thereon shall be deposited into the fund. The principal and interest of all loans repaid and investment earnings thereon shall be deposited into the fund.
(15)(a) If a local governmental agency defaults under the terms of its loan agreement, the department shall so certify to the Chief Financial Officer, who shall forward the amount delinquent to the department from any unobligated funds due to the local governmental agency under any revenue-sharing or tax-sharing fund established by the state, except as otherwise provided by the State Constitution. Certification of delinquency shall not limit the department from pursuing other remedies available for default on a loan, including accelerating loan repayments, eliminating all or part of the interest rate subsidy on the loan, and court appointment of a receiver to manage the public water system.
(b) If a public water system owned by a person other than a local governmental agency defaults under the terms of its loan agreement, the department may take all actions available under law to remedy the default.
(c) The department may impose a penalty for delinquent loan payments in the amount of 6 percent of the amount due, in addition to charging the cost to handle and process the debt. Penalty interest shall accrue on any amount due and payable beginning on the 30th day following the date upon which payment is due.
(16) The department is authorized to terminate or rescind a financial assistance agreement when the recipient fails to comply with the terms and conditions of the agreement.