Florida Senate - 2024                                    SB 1136
       By Senator Trumbull
       2-01501A-24                                           20241136__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to the regulation of water resources;
    3         amending s. 373.323, F.S.; revising the qualification
    4         requirements a person must meet in order to take the
    5         water well contractor license examination; updating
    6         the reference to the Florida Building Code standards
    7         that a licensed water well contractor’s work must
    8         meet; amending s. 373.333, F.S.; authorizing certain
    9         authorities who have been delegated enforcement powers
   10         by water management districts to apply disciplinary
   11         guidelines adopted by the districts; requiring that
   12         certain notices be delivered by certified, rather than
   13         registered, mail; making technical changes; amending
   14         s. 373.336, F.S.; prohibiting a person or business
   15         entity from advertising water well drilling or
   16         construction services in specified circumstances;
   17         amending s. 381.0065, F.S.; deleting provisions
   18         relating to the variance review and advisory committee
   19         for onsite sewage treatment and disposal system
   20         permits; providing an effective date.
   22  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   24         Section 1. Subsections (3) and (10) of section 373.323,
   25  Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
   26         373.323 Licensure of water well contractors; application,
   27  qualifications, and examinations; equipment identification.—
   28         (3) An applicant who meets all of the following
   29  requirements is eligible shall be entitled to take the water
   30  well contractor licensure examination:
   31         (a) Is at least 18 years of age.
   32         (b) Has at least 2 years of experience in constructing,
   33  repairing, or abandoning water wells permitted in this state.
   34  The applicant must demonstrate satisfactory proof of such
   35  experience shall be demonstrated by providing:
   36         1. Evidence of the length of time he or she the applicant
   37  has been engaged in the business of the construction, repair, or
   38  abandonment of water wells as a major activity, as attested to
   39  by a letter from a water well contractor or a letter from a
   40  water well inspector employed by a governmental agency.
   41         2. A list of at least 10 water wells permitted in this
   42  state which he or she that the applicant has constructed,
   43  repaired, or abandoned within the preceding 5 years. Of these
   44  wells, at least seven must have been constructed, as defined in
   45  s. 373.303(2), by the applicant. The list must shall also
   46  include:
   47         a. The name and address of the owner or owners of each
   48  well.
   49         b. The location, primary use, and approximate depth and
   50  diameter of each well that the applicant has constructed,
   51  repaired, or abandoned.
   52         c. The approximate date the construction, repair, or
   53  abandonment of each well was completed.
   54         (c) Has completed the application form and remitted a
   55  nonrefundable application fee.
   56         (10) Water well contractors licensed under this section may
   57  install, repair, and modify pumps and tanks in accordance with
   58  the Florida Building Code, Plumbing; Section 614-Wells Section
   59  612—Wells Pumps And Tanks Used For Private Potable Water
   60  Systems. In addition, licensed water well contractors may
   61  install pumps, tanks, and water conditioning equipment for all
   62  water systems.
   63         Section 2. Subsections (1) and (3) of section 373.333,
   64  Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
   65         373.333 Disciplinary guidelines; adoption and enforcement;
   66  license suspension or revocation.—
   67         (1) The department shall adopt by rule disciplinary
   68  guidelines applicable to each specific ground for disciplinary
   69  action which may be imposed by the water management districts,
   70  providing each water management district and representatives of
   71  the water well contracting industry with meaningful opportunity
   72  to participate in the development of the disciplinary guideline
   73  rules as they are drafted. The disciplinary guidelines must
   74  shall be adopted by each water management district. The
   75  guideline rules must shall be consistently applied by the water
   76  management districts, or by an authority to whom a water
   77  management district has delegated enforcement powers, and must
   78  do all of the following shall:
   79         (a) Specify a meaningful range of designated penalties
   80  based upon the severity and repetition of specific offenses.
   81         (b) Distinguish minor violations from those which endanger
   82  public health, safety, and welfare or contaminate the water
   83  resources.
   84         (c) Inform the public of likely penalties which may be
   85  imposed for proscribed conduct.
   87  A specific finding of mitigating or aggravating circumstances
   88  shall allow a water management district to impose a penalty
   89  other than that provided in the guidelines. Disciplinary action
   90  may be taken by any water management district, regardless of
   91  where the contractor’s license was issued.
   92         (3) Such notice must shall be served in the manner required
   93  by law for the service of process upon a person in a civil
   94  action or by certified registered United States mail to the last
   95  known address of the person. The water management district shall
   96  send copies of such notice only to persons who have specifically
   97  requested such notice or to entities with which the water
   98  management district has formally agreed to provide such notice.
   99  Notice alleging a violation of a rule setting minimum standards
  100  for the location, construction, repair, or abandonment of wells
  101  must shall be accompanied by an order of the water management
  102  district requiring remedial action which, if taken within the
  103  time specified in such order, will effect compliance with the
  104  requirements of this part and regulations issued hereunder. Such
  105  order is shall become final unless a request for hearing as
  106  provided in chapter 120 is made within 30 days after from the
  107  date of service of such order. Upon compliance, notice must
  108  shall be served by the water management district in a timely
  109  manner upon each person and entity who received notice of a
  110  violation, stating that compliance with the order has been
  111  achieved.
  112         Section 3. Subsections (1) and (3) of section 373.336,
  113  Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
  114         373.336 Unlawful acts; penalties.—
  115         (1) It is unlawful for any person or business entity, as
  116  applicable, to do any of the following:
  117         (a) Practice water well contracting without an active
  118  license issued pursuant to this part.
  119         (b) Construct, repair, or abandon a water well, or operate
  120  drilling equipment for such purpose, unless employed by or under
  121  the supervision of a licensed water well contractor or exempt
  122  under s. 373.326.
  123         (c) Give false or forged evidence to obtain a license.
  124         (d) Present as his or her own the license of another.
  125         (e) Use or attempt to use a license to practice water well
  126  contracting which license has been suspended, revoked, or placed
  127  on inactive status.
  128         (f) Engage in willful or repeated violation of this part or
  129  of any department rule or regulation or water management
  130  district or state agency rule or regulation relating to water
  131  wells which endangers the public health, safety, and welfare.
  132         (g) Advertise water well drilling or construction services
  133  if the business entity is not owned by a licensed water well
  134  contractor or does not employ a full-time water well contractor.
  135         (3) A Any person who violates any provision of this part or
  136  a regulation or an order issued hereunder commits shall, upon
  137  conviction, be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree,
  138  punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. Continuing
  139  violation after an order or a conviction constitutes shall
  140  constitute a separate violation for each day so continued.
  141         Section 4. Paragraphs (h) and (w) of subsection (4) of
  142  section 381.0065, Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
  143         381.0065 Onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems;
  144  regulation.—
  145         (4) PERMITS; INSTALLATION; CONDITIONS.—A person may not
  146  construct, repair, modify, abandon, or operate an onsite sewage
  147  treatment and disposal system without first obtaining a permit
  148  approved by the department. The department may issue permits to
  149  carry out this section, except that the issuance of a permit for
  150  work seaward of the coastal construction control line
  151  established under s. 161.053 shall be contingent upon receipt of
  152  any required coastal construction control line permit from the
  153  department. A construction permit is valid for 18 months after
  154  the date of issuance and may be extended by the department for
  155  one 90-day period under rules adopted by the department. A
  156  repair permit is valid for 90 days after the date of issuance.
  157  An operating permit must be obtained before the use of any
  158  aerobic treatment unit or if the establishment generates
  159  commercial waste. Buildings or establishments that use an
  160  aerobic treatment unit or generate commercial waste shall be
  161  inspected by the department at least annually to assure
  162  compliance with the terms of the operating permit. The operating
  163  permit for a commercial wastewater system is valid for 1 year
  164  after the date of issuance and must be renewed annually. The
  165  operating permit for an aerobic treatment unit is valid for 2
  166  years after the date of issuance and must be renewed every 2
  167  years. If all information pertaining to the siting, location,
  168  and installation conditions or repair of an onsite sewage
  169  treatment and disposal system remains the same, a construction
  170  or repair permit for the onsite sewage treatment and disposal
  171  system may be transferred to another person, if the transferee
  172  files, within 60 days after the transfer of ownership, an
  173  amended application providing all corrected information and
  174  proof of ownership of the property. A fee is not associated with
  175  the processing of this supplemental information. A person may
  176  not contract to construct, modify, alter, repair, service,
  177  abandon, or maintain any portion of an onsite sewage treatment
  178  and disposal system without being registered under part III of
  179  chapter 489. A property owner who personally performs
  180  construction, maintenance, or repairs to a system serving his or
  181  her own owner-occupied single-family residence is exempt from
  182  registration requirements for performing such construction,
  183  maintenance, or repairs on that residence, but is subject to all
  184  permitting requirements. A municipality or political subdivision
  185  of the state may not issue a building or plumbing permit for any
  186  building that requires the use of an onsite sewage treatment and
  187  disposal system unless the owner or builder has received a
  188  construction permit for such system from the department. A
  189  building or structure may not be occupied and a municipality,
  190  political subdivision, or any state or federal agency may not
  191  authorize occupancy until the department approves the final
  192  installation of the onsite sewage treatment and disposal system.
  193  A municipality or political subdivision of the state may not
  194  approve any change in occupancy or tenancy of a building that
  195  uses an onsite sewage treatment and disposal system until the
  196  department has reviewed the use of the system with the proposed
  197  change, approved the change, and amended the operating permit.
  198         (h)1. The department may grant variances in hardship cases
  199  which may be less restrictive than the provisions specified in
  200  this section. If a variance is granted and the onsite sewage
  201  treatment and disposal system construction permit has been
  202  issued, the variance may be transferred with the system
  203  construction permit, if the transferee files, within 60 days
  204  after the transfer of ownership, an amended construction permit
  205  application providing all corrected information and proof of
  206  ownership of the property and if the same variance would have
  207  been required for the new owner of the property as was
  208  originally granted to the original applicant for the variance. A
  209  fee is not associated with the processing of this supplemental
  210  information. A variance may not be granted under this section
  211  until the department is satisfied that:
  212         1.a. The hardship was not caused intentionally by the
  213  action of the applicant;
  214         2.b. A reasonable alternative, taking into consideration
  215  factors such as cost, does not exist for the treatment of the
  216  sewage; and
  217         3.c. The discharge from the onsite sewage treatment and
  218  disposal system will not adversely affect the health of the
  219  applicant or the public or significantly degrade the groundwater
  220  or surface waters.
  222  Where soil conditions, water table elevation, and setback
  223  provisions are determined by the department to be satisfactory,
  224  special consideration must be given to those lots platted before
  225  1972.
  226         2. The department shall appoint and staff a variance review
  227  and advisory committee, which shall meet monthly to recommend
  228  agency action on variance requests. The committee shall make its
  229  recommendations on variance requests at the meeting in which the
  230  application is scheduled for consideration, except for an
  231  extraordinary change in circumstances, the receipt of new
  232  information that raises new issues, or when the applicant
  233  requests an extension. The committee shall consider the criteria
  234  in subparagraph 1. in its recommended agency action on variance
  235  requests and shall also strive to allow property owners the full
  236  use of their land where possible. The committee consists of the
  237  following:
  238         a. The Secretary of Environmental Protection or his or her
  239  designee.
  240         b. A representative from the county health departments.
  241         c. A representative from the home building industry
  242  recommended by the Florida Home Builders Association.
  243         d. A representative from the septic tank industry
  244  recommended by the Florida Onsite Wastewater Association.
  245         e. A representative from the Department of Health.
  246         f. A representative from the real estate industry who is
  247  also a developer in this state who develops lots using onsite
  248  sewage treatment and disposal systems, recommended by the
  249  Florida Association of Realtors.
  250         g. A representative from the engineering profession
  251  recommended by the Florida Engineering Society.
  253  Members shall be appointed for a term of 3 years, with such
  254  appointments being staggered so that the terms of no more than
  255  two members expire in any one year. Members shall serve without
  256  remuneration, but if requested, shall be reimbursed for per diem
  257  and travel expenses as provided in s. 112.061.
  258         (w) A governmental entity, including a municipality,
  259  county, or statutorily created commission, may not require an
  260  engineer-designed performance-based treatment system, excluding
  261  a passive engineer-designed performance-based treatment system,
  262  before the completion of the Florida Onsite Sewage Nitrogen
  263  Reduction Strategies Project. This paragraph does not apply to a
  264  governmental entity, including a municipality, county, or
  265  statutorily created commission, which adopted a local law,
  266  ordinance, or regulation on or before January 31, 2012.
  267  Notwithstanding this paragraph, an engineer-designed
  268  performance-based treatment system may be used to meet the
  269  requirements of the variance review and advisory committee
  270  recommendations.
  271         Section 5. This act shall take effect July 1, 2024.